EJN wins SOPA Award for greenwashing collaborative reporting

EJN wins SOPA Award for greenwashing collaborative reporting

Earth Journalism Network (EJN) was “thrilled” to have been awarded the prestigious Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) Award for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment for its collaborative reporting project, “It’s a Wash.” 

“This award honors work that demonstrates high standards of reporting on an environmental topic of significance,” Sam Schramski, EJN’s special project editor, said in a statement.

Schramski explained that “It’s a Wash” was “a deep dive” into the world of greenwashing in Asia, uncovering “deceptive marketing practices and false claims about sustainability initiatives” by companies, governments and even NGOs. 

The project was a collaboration involving 11 journalists from eight media outlets—including the Manila-based CoverStory.ph—in nine different countries. Each story in the series was produced through shared sources, leads, data and other resources. 

“This collaboration allowed us to cover this complex issue from different angles and geographies, without concern about competition,” Schramski said. 

“EJN is incredibly proud of the hard work and dedication of our team and collaborators. The SOPA award is a testament to their commitment to uncovering the truth and holding those responsible accountable,” he added.

Plastics offsetting

CoverStory.ph ran the series—including its own collaborative report with SourceMaterial on plastics offsetting—beginning November last year. 

It was the report on deforestation in central Vietnam by Vo Kieu Bao Uyen of Mekong Eye and the Pulitzer Center’s Rainforest Investigations Network that specifically won the SOPA award for EJN. 

The two-part series—titled “Smoke, Mirrors, Wood Pellets: Vietnam Clears Native Forest To Supply ‘Clean’ Energy to Asia,” and “A Thorny Dilemma: Acacia Plantations in Vietnam May Not Be All That Green”—looked into whether Vietnam’s woody biomass (in the form of pellets) is a renewable energy source as claimed or is in fact causing ecological damage.

Meanwhile, reporters and editors from Southeast Asia Globe, covered existing and upcoming REDD+ schemes in Cambodia, highlighting concerns about corruption and weak rule of law that could potentially benefit powerful interests through the sale of carbon credits, according to the EJN website. 

Singapore’s Kontinentalist explored the country’s carbon tax and credit regime. 

CoverStory.ph teamed up with SourceMaterial to investigate plastics credit exchanges, which are transferable certificates that represent a specific amount of recycled plastic waste being prevented from entering the environment. The actual greenhouse gas emissions from purportedly green efforts to incinerate those noxious polymers are often discounted.

PunchUp in Thailand employed an engaging multimedia approach to answer whether the country’s community carbon offset programs are truly achieving their claimed environmental impact.

IndiaSpend tackled India’s ambitious target to enhance its total forest cover while reporting on whether this has come at the cost of local livelihoods and forest rights.

“We would like to express our deep gratitude to SOPA for recognizing our efforts. This award motivates us to continue our mission of providing high-quality, impactful environmental reporting,” Schramski said.

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