Narragansett, R.I. - The climate change series published in the Chinook Observer in 2006 has been honored in the nation's top environmental reporting competition.

The Observer's parent company, East Oregonian Publishing Company, won an Award of Special Merit from the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting at the University of Rhode Island.

The university's Graduate School of Oceanography presents the annual Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment. The top award went to the 1-million circulation Los Angeles Times for a five-part series about a profound disturbances in the ecology of the world's oceans.

The Observer's climate change series was honored with an Award of Special Merit with two other entries, both about global warming: Eugene Linden for his book "The Winds of Change," and a NOVA Television program, "Dimming the Sun."

According to jurors, the Observer series "represented an extraordinary effort on the part of a group of small newspapers in the Pacific Northwest.

"The result is sophisticated, compelling journalism, extraordinary for publications of this size and scope."

The project was coordinated by Patrick Webb, managing editor of The Daily Astorian, and involved 22 writers, seven photographers, seven editors, six page designers and two logo creators who worked on the series from The Daily Astorian and its sister papers, Chinook Observer, the East Oregonian in Pendleton, The Capital Press in Salem, The Blue Mountain Eagle in John Day and The Wallowa County Chieftain in Enterprise.

"This was the largest cooperative news-gathering project our newspapers have undertaken," said Steve Forrester, president and chief executive officer of East Oregonian Publishing Co. "It is immensely gratifying to have the excellence of this series recognized nationally, against competition from media organizations whose readers and viewers number in the millions."

In three multi-edition installments during March, September and December 2006, the EOPC newspapers all contributed articles and photographs to the series, and each paper published the articles that were most relevant to their readership. In addition to articles about topics, each component of the series featured cameos of scientists and naturalists who were based within each newspaper's region. "The point of the cameos was to capture local scientists' thinking about the nature of climate change and their personal response to it," Forrester said.

The series has also been honored by the North American Agricultural Journalists' association. It was also used by several Oregon farm organizations to brief state legislators on the seriousness of the challenge.

The Grantham Prize was funded by Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham through The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment. The foundation supports natural resource conservation programs in the U.S. and internationally.

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