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Doug Struck Wins April Sidney for Story on Carbon Offsets Fraud

Contact: Audrey Thweatt
[email protected]

May 17, 2010

NEW YORK: The Sidney Hillman Foundation announced today that Doug Struck has won the April Sidney award for a six-part series in The Christian Science Monitor exposing the fraud surrounding the growing market for carbon offsets. Struck reveals that because of exaggerated claims, poorly run projects, and deceptive practices, carbon offsets have a negligible role in the fight against global warming.

The series was a joint project of The Monitor and the New England Center for Investigative Reporting.

Sidney Award judge Charles Kaiser said, “the theme of the series is that ‘voluntary carbon offsets are a 'Wild West' market ripe for fraud, exaggeration, and poorly run projects that probably do little to ease global warming.’ Struck provides many striking examples of misrepresentation and fraud, ranging from a phantom forest in Hungary, which was supposed to make the Vatican carbon-neutral but never got planted, to an Israeli charity selling offsets that are supposed to create brand-new projects, but are actually for tree plantings the charity has been doing for 60 years.”

Struck writes, “Carbon offsets are the environmental equivalent of financial derivatives: complex, unregulated, unchecked and – in many cases – not worth their price... Often, those who get the ‘green credits’ thinking their own carbon emissions have been offset, are fooled.”

Struck is a veteran reporter, who has been a national and a foreign correspondent for The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun. He has run news bureaus in the Middle East, Asia, and Canada, and he has covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, East Timor, the Philippines and Sudan. His global-warming reporting has taken him around the globe, with visits to the Arctic, the Northwest Passage, Greenland, the Andes in Peru, and the Boreal Forest. He has been a Nieman fellow at Harvard and a fellow in Asian studies at George Washington University. He has bachelor of science degree in business administration from Pennsylvania State University.

Since 2008, Struck has written about environmental and science issues for public, non-profit, educational and for-profit clients. He is also the associate chairman and journalist in residence at Emerson College in Boston.

The six-part project was written by Struck with contributions from reporters Ben Arnoldy in India, Sara Miller Llana in Panama, Ilene R. Prusher in Israel, Kathy Marks in Australia, and Katy Jordan and Tyler Maltbie in Boston. The project was financed in part by The Deer Creek Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Assistance in video production was provided by students at Emerson College and Boston University.

The Sidney Award is given once a month to an outstanding piece of socially-conscious journalism by the Sidney Hillman Foundation, which also awards the annual Hillman Prizes every spring. For more information please, click here.

Read an interview with Struck here.


Certificate designed by Edward Sorel

The Sidney is awarded monthly to a piece published in an American magazine, newspaper, on a news site, or a blog. Television and radio broadcasts by an American news outlet are also eligible, as are published photography series.

Deadlines are the last day of each month. The piece must have been published in the month preceding the deadline. In the case of magazines, please nominate according to the issue date on the publication, not when it first appeared.

Nominations are accepted for one's own work, or for someone else's.

The Foundation will announce a winner on the second Wednesday of each month. Recipients will be awarded $500, a bottle of union-made wine, and a certificate designed especially for the Sidney by New Yorker cartoonist, Edward Sorel.

If you wish to nominate yourself or a piece by anyone else, please click here for our nomination form.If you have any further questions about the nomination process, please send your inquiry to [email protected]