Karl Grossman receives Antioch College’s Horace Mann Award

karl color photo
Karl Grossman, a founding member of the board of directors of Beyond Nuclear, has received the Horace Mann Award from the Antioch College Alumni Association on Friday, June 28, 2024.
Karl gave a talk about the nuclear menace in a presentation at the event.
Karl received the award at a ceremony at Antioch‘s Yellow Springs, Ohio campus.
The award recognizes the contribution of alumni of Antioch who have “won some victory for humanity” following the advice to the graduating class of 1859 by Mann, the college’s first president. He was honored for his “life-long work in investigative journalism.”
Here’s the presentation Karl delivered:
Keynote Address at Antioch Awards Ceremony June 28, 2024
Karl Grossman

My experience at an Antioch co-op as a copyboy at the Cleveland Press inspired me to get into journalism—specifically investigative journalism.And I not only found my profession through Antioch but my wife, Janet (Kopp). We met in our first weeks as students here and have been married for 63 years.

This is a corny story but above the entrance of the Cleveland Press was the newspaper’s motto: “Give light and the people will find their own way.”

As a copyboy sometimes I’d work the night shift and alone in the newsroom handle calls coming in. If it was a call about an event happening in Cleveland, I’d write a memo to the city desk.

Or if it was something happening in Shaker Heights, for example, write a memo to the suburban desk.

But if was a call about injustice, danger, corruption, I would put together a memo to the group of investigative reporters at the Press. 

And then, upon their documenting and publishing information, half the time there was a resolution of the problem.

To me, an 18-year-old kid in 1960 from Queens, this was so neat—and important. (It depends, of course, on a country having a modicum of democracy).

And it has been my experience in specializing in investigative reporting for six decades. Half the time, my exposes have resolved problems. With light, the injustice, the danger, the corruption has indeed been dealt with.

My first “big story” as a journalist in doing investigative reporting was challenging the push by New York public works czar Robert Moses to build a four-lane highway the length of Fire Island. I pointed instead for this barrier beach, with exquisite nature and 17 amazing communities, this 22-mile long “barefoot paradise” east of New York City, being preserved as a Fire Island National Seashore, and that came about.

Later on, my investigative reporting included years of challenging the plan to build seven to eleven nuclear power plants on Long Island and blocking the commercial opening of the first of these, at Shoreham. My Grove Press book on this is titled Power Crazy. The Shoreham plant was decommissioned as a nuclear facility, its nuclear innards removed. And the plan to—in the parlance of nuclear promoters at the time—turn Long Island into a “nuclear park” was stopped. Long Island is now nuclear-free, no nuclear power plants, no nuclear reactors. The focus has been on solar and wind energy.

I was among the earliest journalists to focus on environmental racism, now called environmental justice. My chapter appears in the book, Unequal Protection: Environmental Justice & Communities of Color, edited by Professor Robert Bullard, considered the “father of environmental justice.” And Bob and I spoke together at a symposium on this historical outrage at Xavier University of Louisiana, the HBCU in New Orleans. I’ve done many TV programs and written articles on the issue.

And in The Nation magazine I broke the story in 1986 of how the next mission of the ill-fated Challenger space shuttle involved it having a plutonium-fueled space probe on board to be launched when it achieved orbit. If the Challenger exploded not in January 1986 but on that next mission, in May 1986, and the plutonium dispersed as dust, it would have been far more than six astronauts and teacher Chris McAullife losing their lives, but many people on the ground.

Out of this I wrote the book The Wrong Stuff, and also tied NASA’s focus on using nuclear in space with President Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars scheme. Star Wars was based on orbiting battle platforms with on them laser weapons, hypervelocity guns and particle beams, and also on them nuclear reactors and super-plutonium systems providing power for these high-energy weapons. I authored a book, Weapons In Space, and wrote and presented an award-winning TV documentary, “Nukes in Space: the Nuclearization and Weaponization of the Heavens.”

I was a founder of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space—and I am still deeply involved in these issues. I’ve given presentations around the world about the threat of weapons and nuclear power in space including at the United Nations in New York and Geneva and twice before members of the British Parliament.

For 20 years, I was a member of the Commission on Disarmament Education, Conflict Resolution and Peace sponsored by the United Nations and the International Association of University Presidents.

And I continue to actively practice investigative reporting—and I also teach it.

I’m a full professor at the State University of New York at Old Westbury, a school based, in part, on the Antioch model. Antioch students were on the planning committee for SUNY Old Westbury. It was founded in 1965 under SUNY Chancellor Samuel B. Gould, a former Antioch president. I’ve been on the Old Westbury faculty since 1978.

Every semester I teach a course in Investigative Reporting, among the oldest—if not the oldest—Investigative Reporting course at a college or university in the United States, and every semester I also teach an Environmental Journalism course. And as soon as I started at Old Westbury I established and continue to run an Internship in Journalism and Media program—similar to the Antioch co-op program—through which students are placed in media throughout the New York Metropolitan Area

Since 1991, for 33 years, I have hosted the nationally aired TV program “Enviro Close-Up with Karl Grossman.” It is syndicated by Denver, Colorado-based Free Speech TV, the executive director of which was long Ron Williams, an Antiochian, class of 1980.

My “Enviro Closeup” program is broadcast on nearly 200 cable TV stations in 40 states along with the major satellite TV networks including Dish and DirecTV and video streaming services among them Roku and Sling and it also runs on internet platforms. Visit the website of my TV production company, EnviroVideo, at envirovideo.com, and you will see 700 of my “Enviro Close-Up” programs.

On cable TV on Long Island, at LTV, I host a program “Environment Long Island.”

My prior television experience includes being co-anchor for five years of the evening news at WSNL-TV, Long Island’s first commercial TV station, program host at WLIW-TV, its PBS station, and chief investigative reporter at Long Island’s WVVH-TV.

Honors I have received for journalism include the George Polk, Generoso Pope, James Aronson, Leo Goodman and John Peter Zenger Awards.

I founded, in the cause of a free press, the Press Club of Long Island—after reading at my desk at the Long Island Press an article about a reporter jailed for not giving up a source. I was elected the club’s first president. It is now one of the largest chapters of the Society for Professional Journalists which describes itself as “the nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism.”

I was selected along with Walt Whitman, a Long Islander and founder of the still-published newspaper, The Long Islander, to be in the first class of the club’s Long Island Journalism Hall of Fame. I’ve also been named its “Journalist of the Year.”

My weekly column, begun in 1969 at the Long Island Press, where I specialized in investigative reporting, has run, since The Press ceased publication in 1977, in Long Island weekly newspapers and in recent years also on LI news websites.

I regularly write for the Manhattan Jewish Sentinel and Long Island Jewish World and I have a blog on The Times of Israel. 

Websites I regularly write for include CounterPunch, Daily Kos and NationofChange.

I am the author of seven books and am now I’m nearly completed with my eighth, titled May We Choose Life.

I received a Masters of Arts degree in Media Studies from the Media Studies Program at the New School for Social Research in New York City. The establishment of the program was inspired by the media theories and teachings of Marshall McLuhan.

For 30 years I have been a member of the board of a leading media watchdog organization, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). I’m the board secretary, and also write for FAIR as a FAIR associate.

I am on the boards of Beyond Nuclear and the Radiation and Public Health Project.

For many years, I was vice chair of the board of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, the executive director of which was Antiochian Michael Mariotte.

An achievement of Janet’s and my son, Adam Grossman, an attorney, is his just becoming a judge on Long Island.

Here on the Antioch campus, Janet and I used to hang out by the Horace Mann statue, inscribed on it his words as Antioch’s first president at its first graduation in 1859: “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”

On my desk at home for six decades has been a framed photo of Janet sitting at the Horace Mann statue.

To get the Horace Mann Award for endeavoring to fulfill Mann’s call and doing it through investigative journalism—inspired by my co-op experience at Antioch—is a huge honor.

Thank you and thanks to Antioch.

Support Beyond Nuclear

Help to ensure a safer, greener and more just world for all