International journalism group honors St. Thomas professor for his book, The Environment and the Press

Dr. Mark Neuzil

Dr. Mark Neuzil

The 2008 James W. Tankard Jr. Book Award, given to the top book in the field of journalism and mass communication, was awarded to University of St. Thomas professor Dr. Mark Neuzil for his book, The Environment and the Press: From Adventure Writing to Advocacy.

The Tankard Book Award was created to honor Dr. James Tankard Jr. A journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin for more than 30 years and a former journalist at the Raleigh Times and the Associated Press, Tankard was admired for his journalism scholarship, creativity and character.

The award pays tribute to books written by members of the international Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and is administered by the association's Standing Committee on Research.

To win, a book must be judged relevant to journalism and mass communication, break new ground and be exceptionally well-written. The winner was announced at a special ceremony after a book discussion at the AEJMC's annual conference in Boston in August.

Neuzil's book, published by Northwestern University Press, traces the roots of environmental journalism in the United States. It looks at how the field has been influenced by ancient writers such as those who produced the Hebrew Bible, Pliny the Elder and Columella, as well as outdoor adventure writers like Izaak Walton and Theodore Roosevelt, science and agricultural writing and those like Emerson, Thoreau, Mary Hunter Austin and Sigurd Olson, who wrote of nature.

The book notes how those fields came together in the 20th century, hand-in-hand with the environmental movement, to create today's environmental journalism. Coverage of issues well-known, such as the Cuyahoga River fire, and not-so-well-known, such as the controversy over the use of feathers in ladies' hats, are analyzed.

Neuzil, author or co-author of five books, is professor of communication and journalism at St. Thomas, as well as director of the Office for Mission. He is a native Iowan and a graduate of Iowa State University. His master's and doctorate come from the University of Minnesota.

A past winner of a Minnesota Book Award, Neuzil is also a regular contributor to MinnPost, a local on-line newspaper, on the environment and agriculture. He worked for the Star Tribune, the Associated Press and several other daily newspapers. He lives in St. Paul with his family.

The other finalists were Loren Ghiglione of Northwestern for CBS's Don Hollenbeck: An Honest Reporter in the Age of McCarthyism and Arthur Hayes of Fordham for Press Critics are the Fifth Estate: Media Watchdogs in America.