News21 Fellows at UNC’s J-School Win Top Environmental Reporting Prize

An eleven person team from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication has been awarded a 2012 Grantham Award of Special Merit for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment for the multimedia series “Coal: A Love Story.”

The Special Merit Award cited the students’ reporting as “represent[ing] an unparalleled use of multimedia storytelling, showing diverse perspectives on the role of coal in U.S. electricity generation while offering data-driven interactive graphics that make us understand America’s coal dependence in a fresh and innovative way.”

The reporting team is comprised of UNC students whose work is supported through their News21 Fellowships.  News21 is an initiative of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education.

“Coal: A Love Story" explores modern culture's complicated relationship with coal. Almost half of the nation’s electricity is generated from the burning of coal. Despite the fact that Americans rely on coal for nearly everything they do, few people are aware of how it is generated. Whether we like it or not, Americans are in a complicated relationship with coal for the foreseeable future. The country cannot survive without the power that coal provides, but it is not comfortable with its byproducts: reduced air quality, health risks, and environmental damage.

The team of eleven graduate students described the project as intended "to start a conversation about our multi-faceted relationship with coal through personalized video stories, written pieces and graphics." With the addition of this innovative approach toward journalism, these graduate students (some of whom have graduated since completing the site) have not only started a conversation. They have brought the conversation to a new level and to new audiences.

About News21

The goal of News21, which is supported by Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, is to help change the way journalism is taught in the U.S. and train a new generation of journalists capable of reshaping the news industry. It is headquartered at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

About The Grantham Prize

Established in 2005, the prize is funded by Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham through The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment and is administered by the Metcalf Institute at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography. Visit for more information about the winners.

About Carnegie Corporation of New York

Carnegie Corporation of New York was created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding. In keeping with this mandate, the Corporation’s work focuses on the issues that Andrew Carnegie considered of paramount importance: international peace, the advancement of education and knowledge, and the strength of our democracy. For more information, please visit