Thomas L. Stokes Award for Best Energy and Environment Writing

Reuters 2012

An eight-person team collaborated on the winning entry

The National Press Foundation is pleased to announce that a team of reporters from Reuters has won the 2012 Thomas Stokes Award for Energy Writing. Their stories laid the groundwork for the ouster of a powerful energy mogul who
built his company on shakier ethical and financial foundations than anyone knew.

Writers on the series were Brian Grow, Anna Driver, Joshua Schneyer, Janet Roberts, Jeanine Prezioso, David Sheppard, John Shiffman, and Carrick Mollenkamp. Credit also goes to Investigative Projects Editor Blake Morrison and Global Enterprise Editor Michael Williams.

Big energy was the backdrop for a series of deeply reported investigations and news scoops that drew back the curtain on Chesapeake Energy Corporation CEO Aubrey McClendon’s questionable borrowing, secret hedge fund and apparent collusion with a rival company to fix prices for oil and gas land purchases. The stories triggered state and federal investigations, an SEC inquiry, a plunge in the company’s stock price and an internal company investigation that forced McClendon out.

Elevating the series was the influence of Chesapeake Energy and its powerful CEO on how the industry does business in the U.S., how it is regulated, and the cost of power. Signifying its importance were the number of publications that followed as Reuters drove the story for a year.

Our judges were impressed by the tenacity of the reporters in an adversarial investigation over many months in which they pored over corporate records, trading data and courthouse files in five states. Charts, diagrams and maps helped explain the complex financial schemes and colorful details – lunchtime Botox, anyone? — added life to the mix.

We gratefully acknowledge the work of this year’s judges: Energy editor Rod Kuckro; Chris Hopkins of National Journal; and Andrew Clevenger of the Bend Bulletin.

The Thomas L. Stokes Award was established in the spring of 1959 by friends and admirers of the late Thomas L. Stokes, the syndicated Washington columnist on national affairs. It was to be given annually for the best writing “in the independent spirit of Tom Stokes” on subjects of interest to him including energy and natural resources. The Reuters team will receive $1,000 and a citation.

The primary mission of the National Press Foundation is to increase journalists’ knowledge of complex issues in order to improve public understanding. The foundation recognizes and encourages excellence in journalism through its awards and programs.

Other Winners of this Award


NPF Award Winner: Daniel Glick and Jason Plautz

Daniel Glick and Jason Plautz

High Country News


NPF Award Winner: Brett Chase and Madison Hopkins

Brett Chase and Madison Hopkins

Better Government Association


Lisa Song, David Hasemyer, Jim Morris, Greg Gilderman

InsideClimate News, Center for Public Integrity, The Weather Channel



An eight-person team collaborated on the winning entry


Jim Morris, Chris Hamby and Kimberly Leonard

Center for Public Integrity


Tony Bartelme

The Post and Courier


Thomas Content, Lee Bergquist, Joel Dresang

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Robert Collier

The San Francisco Chronicle


The Plain Dealer Staff

Cleveland Plain Dealer


Sudeep Reddy and Pete Slover

The Dallas Morning News


James Bruggers

The Courier Journal


Ralph Haurwitz and Jeff Nesmith

Austin American-Statesman and Cox Newspapers


Peter Eisler

USA Today