True crime meets climate change: That was the podcast Drilled. The creator of that series, journalist Amy Westervelt, has just received the audio/radio award at the Covering Climate Now Journalism Awards for the podcast’s season entitled “Mad Men.” It focused on the 100-year history of fossil fuel propaganda in the United States.
“This series dug into the deep historical roots of the fossil fuel industry’s long record of using disinformation to deny climate change,” said the judges. “With excellent use of audio clips, this revealing series investigates how Big Oil’s public relations machine—which dates back more than a century to John D. Rockefeller—provided a road map that oil corporations, as well as the tobacco industry, followed to mislead the public for decades.”
Also receiving an audio/radio award is Coffee & Quaq. Created by Jenna Kunze and Alice Qannik Glenn, the series offers an insider’s look at the impact of climate change on the Indigenous community of Utqiagvik, Alaska.
“Through intimate conversations with residents, the journalists drew listeners into a culture unfamiliar to many, revealing the precariousness of tundra existence as the planet warms and the resilience and resourcefulness needed to adapt and survive,” the judges said.
The inaugural Covering Climate Now Journalism Awards honor extraordinary climate journalism. It is the creation of Covering Climate Now, a consortium with more than 450 news organizations worldwide. The winners were selected from nearly 600 entries. Read the full list of winners HERE.
For Westervelt, the award comes as she is preparing to launch the next phase of that research, her new project titled Rigged. It is a series about the history of disinformation.
"I started Rigged because I realized I had hundreds of documents on my desk that weren't doing any good there, and that could be useful to other reporters working on stories about disinformation, ranging from climate denial and COVID hoaxers to the Big Lie around the election,” Westervelt said. “There's a general sense out there that disinformation is a relatively new thing, and I think it's important for people to understand that it's more than a century old, that Americans--not Russians--invented the techniques we're still seeing today, and that it was created largely to help American industry circumvent democracy when it needed to."
Rigged is slated to debut October 26, just ahead of the scheduled disinformation hearings in Congress later that week.