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Monday, July 6, 2020

The Planet Magazine recognized by Society for Professional Journalists

For the second year in a row, the spring 2014 edition of The Planet Magazine has landed in the top three college magazines in the entire country.

That edition of Western’s student-run environmental magazine, “The Human Issue,” was announced as a finalist for a Society for Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence award, on Wednesday, May 13.

For Mikey Moran and Sarah Mikkelborg, former editors-in-chief of the spring 2014 issue of The Planet, the edition was the product of more than six quarters of combined editorial work.

“It feels like a validation for sure,” Moran said. “Sometimes, especially in environmental journalism, you kind of go unappreciated a lot, so it’s good to know that stories that are really science heavy can compete with other magazines.”

The edition included stories on topics ranging from mass gravesite mapping to antibiotic resistant infections to space mining. Mikkelborg credited Moran with developing the human-centered theme.

“I think [Moran] had the human issue idea in mind for quite some time,” Mikkelborg said. “It ended up working really well because I’m really interested in the social issues behind environmental science.”

One of the more memorable stories in the issue for both Mikkelborg and Moran was titled “Collapse,” a piece looking at studies and mathematical models that predict massive economic, agricultural and societal crumbling. Moran, Mikkelborg and story editor Meg Duke worked with staff writer Bennett Hanson to turn the story into an elaborate infographic.

During the submission process, Moran said he was worried the judges might take issue with the content.

“The story itself is kind of controversial, it’s almost anti-capitalist,” Moran said. “Apparently they liked it.”

After serving three quarters as editor-in-chief of The Planet, Moran graduated from Western in winter 2014 with a combined degree from Huxley College and the journalism department. She is currently working as an editorial intern at Sierra magazine, the publication arm of the Sierra Club.

“Aside from educational experience, I think [working on The Planet] gave me this huge boost of hope and confidence that there are people who care about writing about the environment,” Moran said.

Mikkelborg, a senior, is also working on a combined environmental studies and journalism major and plans to work in environmental journalism after graduation.

“Between writing and editing The Planet, I spent two years there, so it’s been a big part of my Western experience,” Mikkelborg said. “Mostly it’s just been really eye opening to how much work goes into environmental stories.”

Both Moran and Mikkelborg worked extensively with Rebekah Green, the faculty advisor of the Planet.

“She’s the kind of person that you really want to impress because she has very, very high standards,” Moran said.

Planet photographer Danny Miller was also named as a finalist in feature photography for his work on a story about a homeless couple living in the woods that appeared in “The Human Issue.”

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