UM Journalism alum snags award for Outstanding Feature Story

Kelly Conde, a 2013 graduate of the Master’s program in Environmental and Natural Resource Journalism, received a prestigious award for her story “The Damage Done” this September.

Conde was awarded Outstanding Feature Story (Second Place) by the Society for Environmental Journalists at SEJ’s 24th Annual Conference in New Orleans.

Her in-depth article about the impact of oil drilling and the subsequent water contamination on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation was the capstone of her Master’s work at the University of Montana. 

“Seeing it in print, and now seeing it distributed to a wider audience is so rewarding because the story is really something that needs to be known,” Conde said. “The people that have been affected by that contamination really haven’t gotten any help.”

The award put Conde in the company of 29 other accomplished professional journalists covering the environmental beat for publications like the New York Times, National Geographic, High Country News and Scientific American. It exposed audiences beyond the Continental Divide to her story, which originally ran in the Missoula Independent.

The judges, who had to choose between over 300 entries, called “The Damage Done” a well-told piece about one community's struggle to ensure that its water is safe, and a universal story that speaks to the impact that resource extraction has on countless communities around the world.

Journalism Professor Dennis Swibold, who chaired Conde’s master’s committee, said he was impressed by her ability to paint a picture with words and apply accurate metaphors to complex science.

“She was and is an incredible listener,” Swibold said, “and she wasn’t just listening with her ears, but with her eyes as well.”

After graduating from UM, Conde moved to Idaho, where she currently works for the Sawtooth Society.

- posted on 09/30/14 -