Tree Coroners story wins important award

For immediate release: Aug. 6, 2014

High Country News story on dying trees receives Society of Environmental Journalists award

The Society of Environmental Journalists awarded High Country News contributing editor Cally Carswell second place in their 2014 Awards for Reporting on the Environment in the Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding In-depth Reporting. Carswell’s story, “The Tree Coroners,” is about the dedicated scientists who are working to understand just how and why trees die in order to save the West's threatened forests.

"I was fascinated ­­ and really surprised ­­ to learn that scientists don't have a tight grasp on why trees die," said Carswell. "It's a fundamental question, and one scientists are chasing with increasing urgency because dying trees have become such a conspicuous part of the landscape in many Western communities. I wanted to explore not only what's killing them, but what people can do to soften the blow."

SEJ's awards recognize truly great reporting in one of journalism’s toughest beats. In honoring “The Tree Coroners,” the judges said, “As we are forced to deal with the many challenges of a warming and changing climate, Cally Carswell’s well-written, educational and entertaining story created a narrative that most certainly heightened public awareness about an important topic that is often overlooked when discussing the planet’s growing carbon footprint: the vital role trees play. By better understanding how and why trees are dying, we can incorporate better forest management and land-use practices. This story highlighted the challenges of this important work.”

For more than 40 years, High Country News has reported stories about the American West that are often overlooked by larger media outlets. The nonprofit news organization has won many awards over its years, including the Utne Media Award, the George Polk award, the Science in Society Award, the Native American Journalists Association Best Environmental Story, the Society of Environmental Journalists Award, and others.

For more information about High Country News, contact Gretchen King, HCN community engagement coordinator, at 970-527-4898 x14 or