James Bruggers, a veteran environmental journalist, has joined InsideClimate News as a reporter covering the U.S. Southeast, the first position in ICN's newly launched National Environment Reporting Network.
Bruggers comes to ICN following 18 years as a reporter with the Louisville Courier-Journal, where he covered energy and the environment. He will report on climate change, energy and environmental issues throughout the Southeast for ICN from his home base in Kentucky. Bruggers will also launch ICN's first regional effort to train reporters and collaborate with newsrooms to produce more in-depth local environment stories. At least four ICN hubs are planned around the nation.
"There are so many important environmental stories to tell from across the South, and I am excited to be able to help the dedicated and excellent team at InsideClimate News, and local newsrooms, do that," said Bruggers.
Establishment of this first hub was made possible through the generosity of the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, which awarded ICN $400,000 over three years to launch the network. The Grantham Foundation first became a donor to ICN in 2012, with an initial general support grant of $100,000. The foundation also granted the organization $1.5 million in 2016 for general support for newsgathering and dissemination.
"The grant is a vote of confidence in our vision to revive environmental journalism in places across the country where it has gone missing over the last 10 years," said David Sassoon, founder and publisher of ICN. "We're glad to be doing our part to strengthen local journalism and the vital functions of news gathering and dissemination."
ICN's staff has now grown to 17 full-time members, as it continues its mission to provide essential reporting and analysis on climate, energy and the environment for the public and decision-makers.
Already one of the largest environmental newsrooms in the country, ICN is committed to establishing a permanent national reporting network, to training the next generation of journalists, and to strengthening the practice of environmental journalism. This is particularly vital with the hollowing out of environmental news in local markets and the reversal of environmental and climate protections.
Bruggers brings years of daily and investigative reporting experience to ICN's National Environment Reporting Network. At the Courier-Journal he extensively covered coal, energy, chemical plants, the business community and politics. He broke a national story on brain-damaged railroad workers, uncovered high toxic air levels in Louisville, and exposed mismanagement at the Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District. Bruggers also was a correspondent for USA Today, where he contributed to the award-winning "Smokestack Effect" series.
Before moving to Kentucky, Bruggers was a journalist for more than 20 years in Montana, Alaska, Washington and California, covering a variety of issues including the environment. His work has won numerous recognitions, including the National Press Foundation's Thomas Stokes Award for energy reporting. He was a 13-year board member and two-year president of the Society of Environmental Journalists.
"We are lucky to have found such a talented journalist to lead this effort in the Southeast," said Stacy Feldman, ICN's executive editor. "With Jim's extensive reporting background, deep knowledge of the region and established reputation, we are confident he will unearth stories that add new understanding to environmental and climate issues in the South, and join forces with local newsrooms eager to do the same."
In March, ICN also hired Anna Belle Peevey as its first video producer. Peevey, who is based in New York City, has worked on a range of documentary projects, including an exposé with Bill Moyers and PBS FRONTLINE investigations. She has filmed and produced for the New York Times and Al Jazeera English, among others. She co-produced a four-part science series for PBS with a grant from the National Science Foundation, which reported from the slums of India and the trout streams of rural Pennsylvania and looked at the ways smart technologies have aided in the collection of scientific data. She has a master's from UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism.
"Anna Belle is a skillful, creative videographer and powerful storyteller whose work adds an exciting dimension to ICN's accountability journalism," Feldman said. "We are thrilled to have her on our team."
InsideClimate News is a non-profit journalism organization founded in 2007 to specialize in climate, energy and environmental news.
So far this year, ICN reporters have been honored with 11 national and regional awards and recognitions for their 2017 work. Winning projects include Choke Hold, an investigation of the fossil fuel industry's fight against climate policy, science and clean energy, and Finding Middle Ground, an ongoing series by Meera Subramanian that captures the complex connection Americans have to places that sustain them.
In 2016, an ICN team was a finalist for the Public Service Pulitzer Prize for Exxon: The Road Not Taken. The investigative series revealed that Exxon's own scientists had concluded decades ago that burning fossil fuels was warming the planet, while its executives actively sought to discredit that truth. The series helped spawn a continuing wave of legal challenges against Exxon and other fossil fuel companies. ICN reporters also won the 2013 Pulitzer in National Reporting and dozens of other national journalism awards.
ICN is headquartered in New York and has hubs in Washington, D.C., and Boston, but it operates as a virtual newsroom with staff based in locations from San Diego to Maine.