Local writer wins journalism award for her reporting on fire

Plumas County writer Jane Braxton Little receives acknowledgement from the Society of Professional Environmental Journalists for her writing and reporting on fire. Photo by Kim James

Writing and reporting on fire has earned Plumas County writer Jane Braxton Little recognition from the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ).

The international journalists’ organization awarded Little second place in beat reporting for her entry “FIRE: A Traditional Beat Becomes Painfully Personal.” Two stories were published in Scientific American, one in CalMatters, and two in TomDispatch.

Little made fire her reporting specialty at a time when it’s become a critical part of the climate debate, the judges said: “The range of well-documented articles shared stories which made clear her knowledge and passion for the subject. Then it became personal. Jane’s first-person account of the destruction of her hometown of Greenville, California, put her heartbreak in her prose without losing sight of her mission as a journalist. On all levels, it is an outstanding body of work.”

This is the second SEJ award for Little, whose Greenville office burned in the Dixie fire. She won first place in the feature category for a 2013 story about the effects on forests of the nuclear disasters at Fukushima and Chernobyl. It was co-written with Winifred Bird and published in Environmental Health Perspectives.


The stories involved in the recent SEJ award are: “To Achieve Forest Health, We Need To Change Our Relationship With Fire;” “AI Could Spot Wildfires Faster Than Humans;” “The Dixie Fire Disaster and Me: Can My Town Rebuild After Losing It All?” “Firefighting Robots Go Autonomous;” “A Tour Guide to Hell on Earth, Small Town-Style.”

Little launched her journalism career with Feather Publishing Company, where she won numerous state and national newspaper awards. As a freelance writer her writing has also been recognized with several awards from the Society of Professional Journalists.