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Nonprofits award grants to students, journalists for environmental investigations

Proposals submitted by three journalists and three journalism students to expand environmental oversight will be developed into investigative reports after receiving grants from the Journalism Training Institute, the educational branch of the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, in Spanish).

The grants are the result of the Environmental Enforcement Journalism Day event, in which 25 journalists and journalism students participated and featured Lorena Arroyo, editor of the “América Futura” section of the El País newspaper, as a special guest.

The recipients include Carmen Enid Acevedo, journalist and founder of Bonita Radio; independent journalists Yesenia Ortiz-Pagán and Yaneris Soto-Muñiz; and journalism students Cielo Naara Ríos-Camacho and Yamilet Aponte-Claudio from Sacred Heart University, the latter a former News is my Business reporter, and Marina Reyes-Huertas from the University of Puerto Rico’s Río Piedras Campus.

The journalists participated in a joint initiative between the Journalism Training Institute, the Sierra Club Puerto Rico and Climate Action Now, an effort of organizations and activists born from the Citizen Declaration for Climate Action.

Their research topics cover the disposal of solar panels once they reach the end of their useful life; the bottled water industry’s effects on public water policy on access to drinking water; coastal construction and water sports’ impact on corals; textile recycling and its impact on landfills and soil in Puerto Rico; and the effects of solar panel installation on agricultural land.

Supported by the Sierra Club Foundation, this scholarship round will increase journalistic investigations into these matters, nonprofit officials said.

“The climate crisis facing the Caribbean and, of course, Puerto Rico, coupled with the environmental crimes that have been documented in recent years, forces us to continue paying attention to the management of our natural resources through investigative journalism,” stated Víctor Rodríguez-Velázquez, manager of the institute.

“This new round of scholarships will not only increase environmental oversight in our archipelago, but also develop new generations of journalists ready for investigation,” he said. “This effort, which would not have been possible without the support of Sierra Club Puerto Rico and Climate Action Now, demonstrates the urgency of continuing to tell stories that concern our communities.”

The grants are part of the Climate Action Oversight Project, an initiative that was carried out in two stages. The first convened 16 environmental leaders for workshops spanning five Saturdays between July and August, focusing on environmental oversight, access to public information, journalism, communication strategies for social networks and data visualization.

The CPI institute opens several calls annually to participate in workshops by notable journalism figures and experts in health care, economics and the environment, among others. Participants are encouraged to submit proposals for investigative reports.

As part of these grants, the CPI provides editorial mentorship, data management and visualization assistance, support with information requests and help in audiovisual production. The resulting reports will be published on periodismoinvestigativo.com and other media partners.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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