The Arizona Republic and azcentral, 2023
Author(s): Brandon Loomis, Mark Henle, Debra Utacia Krol, Joel Angel Juarez
The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com devoted a year to reporting, documenting and writing about the Colorado River and its worrisome future as the primary source of water for 40 million people living in seven Western states.
When Lake Mead and Lake Powell water levels dropped to historic and frightening lows, seasoned journalists from the Republic traveled the length and breadth of the Colorado River, capturing the stories and images of people who depend on the river for their daily lives. The Republic’s Colorado River Crisis project drew public attention to a fragile ecosystem and water delivery system that is at extreme risk.
The Republic’s coverage, which coincided with the 100th anniversary of the seven-state Colorado River Compact, included reporting by senior indigenous affairs reporter Debra Utacia Krol, who documented how none of the Native American tribes were at the negotiating table when white settlers, developers and politicians decided how they would divert the river’s waters to develop farms and cities. Krol and photojournalist Joel Angel Juarez documented the long fight for justice.
Reporter Brandon Loomis and photojournalist Mark Henle, who combined have decades of experience covering Colorado, provided insight and perspective to a story that gained national attention as the effects of a megadrought took its toll on the reservoirs. They interviewed hundreds of people from the river’s headwaters in the Wyoming high country to California’s Imperial Valley.
The Republic team’s stories were original and demonstrated the expertise and resourcefulness of seasoned journalists doing their best work.
For the first time, Excellence in Environmental Reporting is named in honor of Edward W. “Ted” Scripps II. Early in his career, Ted worked as a reporter for United Press and Scripps Howard newspapers in Denver and San Francisco. Ted also served as a vice president and secretary of The E.W. Scripps Company. He was a conservationist with interests in environmental issues and changing technologies in the communications industry.