LAWRENCE — Journalists from The Journal are recipients of this year’s Burton W. Marvin Kansas News Enterprise Award from the William Allen White Foundation Board of Trustees.
The Journal’s team of Karen Dillon, Chris Green, Bruce Janssen, Jeff Tuttle and Clare McClaren won for its story, “Running out of Water, Running Out of Time,” which explained the challenges facing the Ogallala Aquifer in western Kansas. The story was published in the August 2018 edition of The Journal, which is the quarterly magazine of the Kansas Leadership Center, a nonprofit organization funded by a core operating grant from the Kansas Health Foundation.
As the single most important source of water in the High Plains region, the Ogallala Aquifer extends from western Texas to South Dakota and supports residential, industrial and agricultural use. Irrigation for farms accounts for 94 percent of the aquifer’s water, but it is being depleted and polluted. In The Journal story, investigative reporter Karen Dillon documented why preserving the aquifer for future generations is proving to be so difficult and why the state’s inability to halt the aquifer’s decline could devastate the Kansas economy.
Chris Green, managing editor of The Journal, said Kansans are now better informed on this important civic challenge.
“The story, which contained a wealth of new data, inspired vigorous debate on social media and rapidly became the most read story in the history of the magazine’s website, klcjournal.com,” Green said. “Responses to the story from readers and elected officials suggest the investigation heightened a sense of urgency around a slow-motion crisis at what could be a critical juncture for determining the aquifer’s future. It seems telling that one of the few points of agreement among major contenders for Kansas governor last fall was the need for policies to extend the life of the Ogallala Aquifer.”
Each year during William Allen White Day events, the William Allen White Foundation presents the Burton W. Marvin award to a publication or broadcast produced by a Kansas journalist or team of journalists demonstrating enterprise in developing and producing a significant news story. The award is named for the former dean of the William Allen White School of Journalism & Mass Communications at the University of Kansas and the first director of the William Allen White Foundation. The award will be presented to The Journal team at noon April 12 at the Adams Alumni Center.
The award is always presented in conjunction with the school’s William Allen White Day events. The following William Allen White Day events are free and open to the public:
Film showing of “William Allen White: What's the Matter with Kansas”
6 p.m., 3139 Wescoe
This documentary by Academy Award-winning KU Professor Kevin Willmott premiered at last year’s William Allen White Day events.
William Allen White Foundation National Citation Award Presentation and Scholarships and Awards Ceremony
3 p.m., Kansas Union, Woodruff Auditorium
National Citation Award recipient Sally Buzbee, executive editor of The Associated Press and KU School of Journalism alumna, will accept the award and give a keynote address, followed by recognition of the journalism student scholarship and award winners and a reception.