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AGU Journalism Awards won by Margaret Munro and Dr. Richard Smith

WASHINGTON Margaret Munro and Dr. Richard Smith have won the American Geophysical Unions 2008 journalism awards:

  • Munro will receive the David Perlman Award for Excellence in Science JournalismNews for her article on the biggest breakup in northern Canada in 30 years of an ice shelf suspected to be a victim of global warming. The winning article appeared in The Gazette, the largest English-language daily newspaper in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

  • Smith will receive the Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science JournalismFeatures for his documentary film Crude. Smith, a marine biologist turned filmmaker, directed Crude for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The film examines oil's ancient origins and the geology of its formation, the prodigious use by industrial society of the substance as fuel and raw material, and potential consequences of that massive consumption.

The Perlman Award recognizes work published with deadline pressure of one week or less. In choosing Munros The Gazette article about the ice-shelf collapse, the Perlman Award selection committee said,

Munros article chronicles that event and its belated discovery from satellite images in a graceful and clear manner. The story is well balanced in terms of the science. Her writing captures the excitement of the scientific discovery in pulling together the evidence: from the first hints of detection through earthquake tremors, to identification of the large ice island, to the environmental consequences.

Munros winning article, which was published on 28 December, 2006 may be read at Munro writes for CanWest News Service and is based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The Sullivan Award recognizes work published with lead time of more than one week. Regarding the film Crude, the Sullivan Award selection committee said it

represents magnificent film making, compellingly led and narrated by a scientist. Interviews with other scientists and thinkers are crisp and thoughtful; computer animations are riveting. Linking solid science with societal issues, the film demonstrates how journalism can elevate public scientific literacy and awareness, as well as lead public opinion on critical scientific, environmental, and societal issues.

The 90-minute documentary may be viewed at The first broadcast of the film took place on 24 May 2007 on the Australian Broadcasting Corporations ABC-TV.

The AGU journalism awards will be presented during Honors Evening at the Joint Assembly of AGU and 13 U.S. and Latin American scientific societies in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, 27-30 May,

AGUs Sullivan and Perlman Awards are named for Walter Sullivan, late science editor of The New York Times, and David Perlman, science editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, respectively. Each award consists of a plaque and a $2,000 stipend.


Contact: Peter Weiss
American Geophysical Union

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