'Sea Sick' Author Wins Grantham Prize, the First for a Book

photo sea sick mitchell grantham
Courtesy Metcalf Institute.

Seeing an environmental journalist in the wild can be akin to seeing a dinosaur. The profession has taken some hits in recent years, with a decline in newspapers and reporting jobs in general. The reporters that remain seem to be getting stronger, though. They're adapting, and hopefully steering clear of asteroids. Alanna Mitchell, for instance, was the science and environment reporter at the Globe and Mail, Canada's national newspaper, for 14 years until she left daily journalism to devote herself to writing on science. Her ambition is paying off. Mitchell is taking home the 2010 Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment. The prize, for Mitchell's book, "Sea Sick: The Global Ocean in Crisis," comes with $75,000. Mitchell is now the first book author to receive the annual Grantham Prize, and the first Canadian entrant to win the $75,000.

What's the book about? Sunshine Menezes, executive director of the Metcalf Institute for Marine & Environmental Reporting and Grantham Prize administrator, calls it "an engaging work" which "clearly and eloquently explains the specific dangers facing global marine ecosystems."

Philip Meyer, chairman of the Grantham Prize Jury adds, "Reading Alanna Mitchell convinces you that the ocean is at least as important as the atmosphere when we worry about climate change. You cannot put this book down without understanding that, for life on earth to continue as it is, the ocean from which we evolved must remain healthy."

Jeff Nield, a fellow TreeHugger, wrote last year about the book, saying "Once or twice while reading this book I had to put it down, take a breathe and let the panic subside."

The Grantham Prize honors outstanding coverage of the environment, and recognizes reporting that has the potential to bring about constructive change.

Three awards of merit also are going out this year, each with a $5,000 cash prize, to: Dan Egan of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for his ongoing environmental reporting on the Great Lakes; Cleo Paskal, author of "Global Warring;" and the team led by Hedrick Smith, for the PBS Frontline documentary "Poisoned Waters."

The Metcalf folks also offer a number of fellowships, which have helped train and enrich many a journalist, including this blogger. It's important to support the work of great environmental journalism. Knowledge is power, as Francis Bacon used to say. Metcalf relies on the support of individuals, foundations, and agency grants.

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