[PRESS RELEASE] 'Beyond The Light Switch' Receives Highest Honor In Broadcast Journalism
DETROIT, December 21, 2011 – The Columbia University Journalism School has awarded Detroit Public Television’s groundbreaking documentary Beyond The Light Switch an Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award. Produced in partnership with Scientific American magazine and aired around the country, the production took a new, in-depth look at the controversy and urgency surrounding the challenge of developing a new infrastructure for electricity in the United States.
For 70 years, the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards have recognized excellence in broadcast journalism. Regarded today as the most prestigious prize in broadcast news, the equivalent of the Pulitzer Prizes, the duPont-Columbia Awards bring the best in broadcast and digital journalism to professional and public attention and honor those who produce it. The duPont-Columbia Awards engender a collective spirit for the industry and inform the public of the contributions news organizations make to their communities and to the world.
The two-hour documentary premiered nationally in April, 2011 and was seen in all 20 Top broadcast markets as well as in 92 percent of the Top 50 domestic markets. It has been available to one hundred million households in the U.S. and has been broadcast nearly 2500 times on public television. The two hour broadcast has also generated more than 100 hours of video assets that have been featured around the web.
Produced by Detroit Public Television’s Ed Moore and guided by an independent advisory panel convened by the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Beyond The Light Switch is hosted by David Biello, energy and environment associate editor at Scientific American. He takes viewers to a first-of-its-kind coal plant in West Virginia, gas wells in Pennsylvania and Texas, inside a nuclear reactor under construction in Tennessee, to wind farms along the Hood River Valley in Oregon and to the shores of Cape Cod, among other places around the country that showcase the options for our energy future.
“This award is the highest level of recognition for the professionals who completed this project and our organization’s commitment to exploring the issues most important to our community and country,” said Rich Homberg, President and General Manager of Detroit Public Television. “We hope this will allow even more Americans to be exposed to the balanced perspective in Beyond The Light Switch to prepare our country to face a challenge more critical than anything since healthcare."
Cultural institutions, colleges and universities have hosted screenings of the documentary in Alaska, Florida Illinois, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C. It has entered high school and college curricula in Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey and Vermont. State legislatures in Kansas and West Virginia have requested copies for screenings.
The findings in the documentary include that by 2050, experts say the United States must:
- Turn over nearly its entire electric power plant fleet
- Cut carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent
- Completely update its power grid
All of this must happen while demand for electricity is expected to rise by 30 percent. The documentary explores the possible paths forward including coal, natural gas, renewables, natural gas, solar, the “super grid” and others to determine what achieves the goals, creates jobs and gains a measure of energy security.
Media Contact: Matt Friedman (248) 626-0006