Accepts entries starting
Entry Deadline April 22, 2015
Decision Date
Ceremony Date
Entry Fee (See Details)
Monetary or Material Award (See Details)

About the Award

We are now accepting submissions for the Oakes Award. 

The John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism, which carries a $5,000 prize and plaque, is given annually for news reporting that makes an exceptional contribution to the public’s understanding of environmental issues. The award was founded in 1993 by Oakes’ family, friends and colleagues. It recognizes journalists whose work meets the highest standards of journalistic excellence, and it is presented in the fall at Columbia Journalism School.

Notable Winners

2012: Chicago Tribune reporters Patricia Callahan, Michael Hawthorne and Sam Roe - for their year long environmental investigation series "Playing With Fire"

2011: The New York Times reporter Justin Gillis for "Temperature Rising"

2010: The Center for Public Integrity’s International Consortium of
Investigative Journalists for “Dangers in the Dust: Inside the Global Asbestos Trade”


• Jody Calendar: Founder of Calendar Communications, LLC, a firm specializing in motivational speaking and customized transitional change models to help news organizations and companies navigate the myriad of challenges caused by a changing landscape.

• Jim Detjen: Director of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State University’s School of Journalism.

• Peter Dykstra: Publisher of Environmental Health News and The Daily Climate, websites that publish original work on science, health and environment and aggregate over 200 news stories each day.

• Tom Herman: Taught a seminar on business news coverage at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and at Yale College in the fall of 2010.

• Marguerite Holloway: Director of Science and Environmental Journalism and an assistant professor.

• Elizabeth Kolbert: Has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1999. Her series on global warming, “The Climate of Man,” appeared in The New Yorker in the spring of 2005.

•Bill McKibben: The author of a dozen books about the environment, including “The End of Nature,” which was the first book for a general audience about global warming.

• Don J. Melnick: The Thomas Hunt Morgan Professor of Conservation Biology at Columbia University and executive director for the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation (CERC) at Columbia.

• John G. H. Oakes: The son of John B. Oakes and co-founder of OR Books (, an alternative publishing company that embraces e-books and other new technologies.

• Judy Pasternak: A non-fiction writer who focuses often on environmental issues.

• David Ropeik: Consultant and speaker on risk communication and risk perception to government, business, trade associations, consumer groups, and educational institutions.

• Jonathan Weiner: An award-winning science writer.

Monetary/Material Award Details


Eligibility Requirements

  • For the first time, print, radio, broadcast and digital reporting will be eligible for the award. All entries must have appeared in the U.S. during 2014.

Entry Fee Details

  • The entry fee for each nomination is $50. Entry fees are non-refundable.


Required Material

Entry Format

All materials should be submitted online: formatted and uploaded as PDFs. Supporting multimedia presentations should be sent as URLs. Links must remain live through September 2015.

To enter online, please fill out the entry form and upload supporting materials. 

Materials needed for entry:

  • One to five pieces of environmental reporting. Materials may be uploaded as PDFs or as links. 

  • Confirmation that the entry appeared during 2014.

  • Broadcast transcripts for radio or video reporting, or if your online entry includes audio/video components.

Supplemental materials such as a brief statement on the work as well as biographies of the persons who contributed to the pieces may be submitted. 

Please keep in mind:

  • A single article or a series of articles can be submitted. A series must be designated as such by the publication when it is printed. A regular column may also be submitted as a series.

  • If submitting a series, up to five articles can be submitted. 

  • The judges may divide the award among the writer, videographer, photographer, and illustrator, if their work substantially strengthens the winning piece. 

  • A translation must be supplied for any article not written in English.

  • If a piece or series lives online, direct links may be provided. Otherwise, please upload the material to a site such as YouTube or Vimeo. 

  • For all visual elements, the name of the photographer, videographer, or graphic artist should be included on all entry forms.

  • Entry fees are non-refundable.

Contact Information

Caroline Martinet, Program Manager, Oakes Award
Columbia University Journalism School
2950 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
[email protected]

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