When the Matt Damon fracking movie, “Promised Land” came out, I knew whose take on it I wanted to hear.
Public radio reporters Susan Phillips and Scott Detrow have so surrounded the Pennsylvania gas-drilling story that they’ve been recognized with the prestigious Alfred I. Dupont Columbia University Award, which they’ll pick up at an ceremony in New York next week.
But you can meet them and hear more about their kickass reporting Tuesday evening at WHYY.
For one of the stories that got the prize, Susan found herself if the office of a Pittsburgh-area plastic surgeon who was seeing patients with mysterious lesions. You can listen to that story by playing the audio file above.
You should know a little about these reporters, and the importance of the kind of journalism they practice.
Susan’s desk is five steps from mine here at WHYY, and I see her there plenty of nights and weekends. When she’s on a story, she’s dogged and fair from beginning to end. She works the phones, builds sources and plows through public records. But then she also gets her tape recorder and heads deep into gas county to find the people affected by Pennsylvania’s energy boom and bring their stories to life.
Scott has worked for years at WITF in Harrisburg, but you’ve heard him plenty on WHYY – first covering the state capitol, and then as Susan’s partner on State Impact, a collaboration of the two stations and NPR. Scott is an affable dynamo, who’ll chase a story wherever he has to, and also has a gift for telling stories with sound. I know a lot of reporters in Harrisburg, where Scott is universally respected, and will soon be missed. He’s headed to a new job in San Francisco at public radio station KQED.
Getting a big story right
It’s easy to take people you know for granted. But we and 12 million Pennsylvania citizens are lucky that these two journalists have had the time and funding to cover Pennsylvania energy issues in a serious way.
The gas-drilling story isn’t easy. It involves science and technology, economics, and politics. It stirs deep passions and is a battleground for competing agendas.
At a time when media organizations are struggling, it’s great to see two experienced journalists on the story, people whose only agenda is getting and telling the whole story.
Scott and Susan have logged countless miles trekking through the state in their reporting, and I’m proud to say they’ve at times earned the scorn of industry reps, environmentalists, and government regulators.
Their commitment is to you, their readers and listeners, and the truth.
So I’ll be there at 7 p.m. Tuesday night for “Shale: The State Impact Story.” It’s an evening with Susan and Scott at the WHYY studio, 6th and Race. It’s free for WHYY members. If you’re not and you sign up on the spot, you’ll get two free tickets. If we just can’t get you to join, it’s $5 at the door – that’s $2.50 per award-winning journalist.
You can ask them what they think of the Matt Damon movie – or find Susan’s review and five things you should know about the film at the State Impact website.