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UFCJC Student Project WATERSHED Wins 2023 Online Journalism Award

The WATERSHED project, created by a 13-member team of University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications (UFCJC) undergraduate student journalists, received the 2023 Online Journalism Awards (ONA) Student Journalism Award in the Student Team Portfolio category.

The project is the result of a six-month investigation of Florida’s water quality to mark the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act and the Florida Water Resources Act, landmark federal and state water laws passed in 1972. They pursued the question of whether water quality is worsening today, after the success of those laws.

This is the first time in the more than 20-year history of the Online Journalism Awards, that UFCJC has won an award in the student category.

The Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting provided a grant to fund the project and students applied to be part of the special Pulitzer class, led by UFCJC Environmental Journalist in Residence Cynthia Barnett. They published in-depth multimedia stories, most supported by data analysis, that painted a complex picture: While Florida has come a long way toward cleaning up pollution in the past half century, the state’s water challenges are becoming more acute today due to a combination of human pressures and climate change.

The WATERSHED reporting team included Ellen Bausback, B.S. Journalism 2022, Ethan Beckley, B.S. Telecommunication 2022, Sara Breske, B.S. Journalism 2022, Marlena Carrillo, B.S. Journalism 2022,Katie Delk, B.S. Journalism 2023, Natalia Galicza, B.S. Journalism 2022, Journalism senior Alan Halaly, Alexandra Harris, B.S. Journalism 2022, Jordyn Kalman, B.S. Journalism 2022, Sara Lindsay, B.S. Journalism 2022, Jack Prator, B.S. Journalism 2023, Kalia Richardson, B.S. Journalism 2022, and Marlowe Starling, B.S. Journalism 2022.

The series was published on WUFT News over five days in August 2022, in advance of other national projects that marked the Clean Water Act in October 2022. Additional editing assistance was provided by Center for Public Interest Communications Managing Director Matt Sheehan, WUFT News Manager Ethan Magoc, former Michael and Linda Connelly Lecturer in Narrative Nonfiction Moni Basu and Journalism Associate Professor Norm Lewis. WATERSHED Advisory Board members included Miami Herald Climate reporter Alex Harris, B.S. Journalism 2015, InvestigateWest Co-Founder Robert McClure, B.S. Journalism 1982 and Hall of Fame 2017, and Miami Herald Environment editor Curtis Morgan.

The ONA Online Journalism Awards honor exceptional science reporting, community-centered journalism, investigative data journalism, climate change reporting and general excellence. Prize money for five of the awards totals $52,000, thanks to 3M, the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, UFCJC, McKinsey Publishing and SmartNews.

The winners were announced virtually on Aug. 17.

Posted: August 18, 2023
Category: Alumni News, College News, Science Communication News, Student News
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