2004 Recipient: Small Newspaper

AAAS Science Journalism Awards

2004 RECIPIENT: Newspapers with a circulation of less than 100,000

Melinda Burns
Santa Barbara News Press 
“Ancient Mariners”
11 January 2004

The judging committee unanimously agreed to award Melinda Burns’s article about an unconventional theory that Polynesians crossed the sea to Santa Barbara 1300 years ago and stayed long enough to share their sea-faring skills with the local Chumash people. The judges were impressed by her dramatization of the science process.

“This piece takes you through arguments for and against the theory, and portrays how science is a dialogue,” said John Carey of BusinessWeek.

Michael Toner of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution appreciated the way “the article walks you through the process of discovery.”

Melinda Burns, a senior writer for the Santa Barbara News-Press, has won a number of awards for her reporting on farm-workers and the environment. Before joining News-Press 19 years ago, Burns spent two years reporting for the Los Angeles Times. She earned a B.A. degree in English from Harvard University and an M.S. degree in education from the University of Southern California. Fluent in Spanish, she lived in Latin America for eight years and has taken a number of reporting trips to the region.