Renee Knight, a senior editor at Inside Unmanned Systems magazine, is the winner of ASBPE’s 15th annual Stephen Barr Award for an October 2017 news analysis package titled “After the Storm.” Her work offered a dramatic first-hand account of the life-saving contributions of drone aircraft during Hurricane Harvey in Texas, and showcased the promise of unmanned systems in future disasters.
Renee’s articles described the many uses of unmanned aerial systems, commonly known as drones, in aiding first responders and emergency management personnel, repairing damaged cellular communications and power grids, helping protect damaged industrial and residential property, and speeding insurance decisions.
Her work explored the first-ever concerted deployment of unmanned aerial systems—authorized under federal exemptions because of the storm conditions—to reflect efforts by the Federal Aviation Administration, state and local law enforcement, along with first responders, and emergency management personnel as they coalesced around a common purpose of public safety.
One Stephen Barr judge cited her “clear and compelling writing about an important subject,” which outshone much of the best reporting about the hurricane in the national media, while adding industry-based detail that other more-general news sources couldn’t provide. Said another judge: “The piece identified a new and fascinating aspect of hurricane survival, relief and recovery. [It] conveyed numerous specific examples of drone applications, and it captured the helpful and can-do spirit of the drone operators. The hurricane response was a combination of old-fashioned pitching-in to help with a new technological tool.”
Judges also noted the expansive use of sidebars to show the wide-ranging contribution of drones, and to increase the clarity of the overall work. Those sidebars ones headed “Fixing Cell Phone Service, Railways,” “Restoring Power,” and “Speeding Insurance Claims.”
Inside Unmanned Systems is a four-year-old publication of Automonous Media, a privately held media company based in Red Bank, N.J., that with 20,000 readers who are involved in the dynamic field of global unmanned and autonomous vehicles. Said publisher Richard Fischer of his award-wining senior editor: “We know that drones are a technology solution that save time, save money and saves lives. Renee has made it her mission at Inside Unmanned Systems to develop the authoritative knowledge to educate new and experienced user communities to the benefits of unmanned systems.”
Renee, based in the Houston area, has reported for the publication on a broad range of applications, from nuclear reactor safety to healthcare delivery in Africa. She is known among associates for making complex technical solutions accessible by uncovering multiple layers of benefit to users, always emphasizing lessons learned, best practices and “inside” information. From 2007 to 2014 she was an editor and reporter at Advanstar Dental Media, and she has been active as a freelancer across many fields.
She is a 2001 journalism graduate of Ohio University, after which she worked for a time at Ohio’s Lima News. In 2006 she earned a masters degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School. During her time at Medill she interned at London’s The Independent on Sunday, and at Chicago Home.
About the Stephen Barr Award:
This is the 15th Stephen Barr Award to be presented. It is named for one of ASBPE’s most honored journalists, who died of cancer in 2002 at the age of 43. Unlike other ASBPE awards, it honors individual writing across our feature categories, and especially work that shows inventiveness, insight, balance, depth of investigation, and impact on readers. A check for $500 accompanies the award, endowed by Stephen Barr’s parents and administered by the ASBPE Foundation.