An investigative look at safety concerns in the oil and gas industry and a 360-degree review of transportation issues in Los Angeles were named winners of the 2012 Editor & Publisher/Ebyline 100% Journalism Challenge on Monday. Finance writer Joan Gralla and environmental reporter Richard Risemberg will split the $35,000 prize, to be used to commission original reporting. Gralla’s project focuses on assessing workplace safety in the energy industry while Risemberg will commission a series of articles on transportation issues affecting communities near the Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s busiest seaport.
“Both of the 100% Journalism Challenge winners proposed projects that challenge a community or industry to examine itself,” said Ebyline chief executive and co-founder Bill Momary. “These are stories that want to be told. We’re thrilled to help make them happen.”
Risemberg, who studies transportation and development issues, was spurred to enter the contest by plans to widen several LA freeways to accommodate increased port traffic. He plans to investigate the potential health, traffic and economic impacts on towns and cities in the port traffic corridor, as well as looking at alternatives to the freeways.
“In a globalized world, the movement of goods is a foundation of prosperity, yet it can have devastating effects on communities and businesses,” said Risemberg. “How this particular region develops will set patterns for a generation to come.”
A former Reuters correspondent, Gralla’s reporting team will focus on the largest fuel refineries in Texas, the heart of America’s oil patch, using interviews, union and corporate data and regulatory filings to examine the state of workplace safety.
“The Deepwater Horizon spill showed what happens when the public can’t demand accountability from government or industry because they don’t know what’s happening,” said Gralla. “Using the 100% Challenge funds to assign experienced reporters to this project will shine a light on the risks workers take to bring us the energy that runs our economy.”
The contest, a joint effort by Editor & Publisher and Ebyline, challenged journalists and non-journalists alike to propose ideas for covering 100% of a topic using Ebyline’s extensive network of vetted freelancers. The winners were chosen for their projects’ ambition, journalism value and focus.
“The winning projects addressed a gap between what the media report on and issues that are begging for a closer look,” said former LA Times managing editor Leo Wolinsky, speaking on behalf of the judging panel. “We were looking for journalistic purpose and potential impact and we got it.”
Melanie Sill, executive editor of Southern California Public Radio, and Bob Wallace, former editor of Rolling Stone and a veteran of ABC News, were also judges for the contest.
The $17,500 in prize money for each winner will be awarded as a credit to be used to hire freelance journalists from Ebyline’s database of 2,300 vetted reporters.
Ebyline, Inc. (http://www.ebyline.com) is a secure online platform for newspapers, publishers, brands and content producers to collaborate with vetted, professional freelance journalists. Ebyline’s tools make the process of managing and tracking freelancer journalists easier than ever before. The Virtual Newsroom(TM) solution automates all freelancer administration including assignment/pitch flow, tax management and payment processing. Plus, editors and publishers have instant access to a pool of qualified, experienced freelance journalists from around the world for a cost-effective way to expand content. Founded by veterans of the Los Angeles Times, Ebyline’s client partners include E.W. Scripps & Co., Gatehouse Media, Intel, Morris, and ProPublica, among many others.