Media News

WSJ’s Blunt on covering the PG&E disaster

July 15, 2023

Posted by Chris Roush

Katherine Blunt

Lauren Shoffner of Today @ Elon profiled Wall Street Journal energy reporter Katherine Blunt, an alumnus of Elon University.

Shoffner reports, “Within days of joining the paper, a massive wildfire engulfed Northern California, with investigators later placing the blame on the faulty infrastructure of power provider Pacific Gas & Electric. Her coverage of the disaster would help define her early career.

“During this time, she worked with two talented colleagues to write a series of stories that examined why the company had for years failed to focus on safety. The series received significant recognition — Blunt and her colleagues were finalists for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. They also received the Gerald Loeb Award, which recognizes the best of business journalism, as well as the Thomas L. Stokes Award for environmental journalism.

“This work was the foundation for her 2022 book, “California Burning: The Fall of Pacific Gas and Electric – and What It Means for America’s Power Grid.”

“‘A literary agent approached me with the opportunity, and Portfolio, a Penguin imprint, understood our vision for it,’ Blunt said. ‘My aim was to explain as comprehensively as possible why PG&E faces such a dire set of challenges in preventing its power lines from igniting catastrophic wildfires. The answer centers in part on long-running internal mismanagement, as well as regulatory issues, political pressure and climate change.'”

Read more here.

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