“Black Snow” examined the risks that the controversial practice of sugar cane burning poses to residents in Florida’s Glades region.
Entries from The Boston Globe, Detroit Free Press, The Arizona Republic, and Boston’s WBUR also earned recognition.
The award will recognize one outstanding work of local or regional science journalism with a $5,000 prize.
Judges lauded “Ahead of the Fire” for its rigorous reporting, compelling storytelling, and inventive data journalism. “They pushed the envelope,” said one panel member. “It took what was not only an Arizona issue and a California issue and explained why it was relevant to everyone in the country.”
For the past six decades, McElheny has written about many miraculous moments in science, from the lunar landing to the sequencing of the human genome. But he points back to one remarkable experience—witnessing an open-heart surgery—as the spark.
In a sun-filled room overlooking the Charles River, the Knight Science Journalism Program honored reporters from the Charleston Post and Courier with the inaugural Victor K. McElheny Award for local and regional science journalism.