“I’m humbled by this recognition from the Murrows. I’m quite young in my career as I’m only 27 and I have already received some of the highest recognition a radio journalist can achieve,” said Schmid, who works as St. Louis public radio’s economic development reporter.
Schmid compiled an investigative article about groundwater contamination in Springfield, Missouri, where Northrop Grumman Corporation had knowingly been polluting the groundwater for decades.
“There was a news release about a newly filed lawsuit alleging Northrop Grumman had known about groundwater contamination in the Springfield area for years,” said Schmid. “The simple mention of ‘Northrop Grumman’ and ‘trichloroethylene’ in the lawsuit were huge red flags to me that there was a deeper story to investigate because of my time on Long Island.”
In 2016, when Schmid was a junior at Stony Brook, he followed the many stories about a toxic plume threatening the groundwater supply in Bethpage because of contamination from Northrop Grumman. Schmid noticed that the situation in Springfield, Missouri, was nearly identical to the situation in Bethpage and immediately began to investigate.
“That story always stuck with me since so many Long Islanders were affected and upset over the contamination of their drinking water,” Schmid said.
In his reporting in Missouri, Schmid had to sift through hundreds of documents to piece a storyline together. He said he is grateful for his time with the SoCJ where he learned the principles of journalism and how much hard work has to go into creating an accurate, compelling story.
“Greatness can and does come from anywhere,” said Schmid, “because hard work trumps all in this industry, and Stony Brook students are taught to work hard.”
“This story is so impressive and such an important piece of work for the community, of course, but also as a testament to the power of investigative journalism to bring people together to fight inequities and find solutions,” said Laura Lindenfeld, dean of the School of Communication and Journalism and executive director of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. “We’re so very proud to have Eric as an alumnus of the School.”
— Menka Suresh, science communication master’s student