China’s environmental journalists “deserve more recognition”

Winners of the China Environmental Press Awards 2014 include articles on groundwater pollution and the crisis of China's green energy sector

China’s environmental journalists deserve more recognition for the work they do, said Wang Tao, winner of the young journalist of the year at this year’s China Environmental Press Awards.

Speaking at the Awards, held in Beijing on Tuesday, Wang said: “It’s not easy to be a journalist in China and it’s even harder to be an environmental journalist. Therefore, I hope that there will be more acknowledgement and recognition for our profession.”

The Awards, first given out in 2010, were jointly organised by chinadialogue, the Guardian, Netease New Media Center and Renmin University’s School of Environment and Natural Resources and School of Journalism and Communication.

Winners this year included articles on how arsenic poisoning has devastated the lives of people by polluting soil and water supplies, pollution in China’s largest rice-growing region and the collapse of China’s renewable energy sector.

Last week, veteran environmentalist and photographer Li Feng, winner of the 2013 China Environmental Press Award for ‘Biggest Impact’ for his piece on the slaughter of migratory birds in Hunan, spoke out about the threats he had faced since his article was published.

However, Gao Shengke, a journalist at Caijing magazine and winner of the ‘Best Scoop’ at this year’s awards for his article on groundwater pollution, said journalists still needed to work harder to make sure their stories had an impact.

Shengke also won the prize for ‘Best investigation’ at the 2013 Awards for his article looking into the residential development of contaminated land in Chinese cities.

“We have done quite a lot of reporting,” said Shengke, “but does this reporting solve the problem? We have severe environmental problems nowadays and there are countless stories to be reported.

“However, today’s news eventually has to give way to tomorrow’s breaking news and hence the attention will shift away. How much of our reporting will actually leave a mark for China’s environmental protection cause or the Chinese people?”