The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia
Monday, 20 May 2024 16:03

Hellbender Press garners first-place award for investigation into proposed Oak Ridge airport

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Golden Press Card clear 

The honor continues Hellbender Press’s tradition of excellence in journalism.

KNOXVILLE — Hellbender Press: The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia, was honored with a first-place award by the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists (ETSPJ) for its probe into a controversial municipal airport proposed by the city of Oak Ridge.

Reporters Wolf Naegeli and Ben Pounds and Hellbender Press editor and publisher Thomas Fraser accepted the award during ETSPJ’s 2023 Golden Press Card awards, held May 16 at Maple Hall in downtown Knoxville. The honors, which are bestowed upon television, radio, print and digital media, “strive to honor the best journalism in the eastern region of Tennessee from the past year,” according to ETSPJ.

Hellbender Press was honored with first place in the digital space for its investigation into the proposed airport, which the city maintains would juice economic development, especially in the high-tech business realm. 

The new general-aviation airport is planned at Oak Ridge’s Heritage Center, next to the Manhattan Project National Historical Park’s former K-25 gaseous diffusion plant site. Detractors decry the project as a niche development that is a waste of both taxpayer money and valuable industrial property.

Hellbender’s multi-part, multimedia examination included environmental, geographical and economic analysis and interviews with stakeholders, officials and the public.

The 2023 Golden Press Card entries were judged by the Los Angeles Press Club.

“This team of reporters produced a well-researched package of public service journalism outlining the potential ramifications of building a municipal airport in Oak Ridge,” judges said of the award.

The award continues Hellbender Press’s tradition of excellence in journalism. Hellbender won two first-place honors in the 2021 Golden Press Card awards. 

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Last modified on Monday, 20 May 2024 21:48