About Me

Justin Catanoso, Wake Forest journalism professor and environmental journalist, outside Tribble Hall on campus. Photo by Ken Bennett.

Justin Catanoso is a North Carolina-based author, university professor and journalist with decades of experience in covering climate change, health care, economic development and travel.

He is the winner of the Science-in-Society Award from the National Association of Science Writers and the North Carolina Press Association’s Public Service Award for his coverage of fraud in the tobacco industry in 1992. That groundbreaking investigative series, written with reporter Taft Wireback, drew international media attention, was used in court cases against the tobacco industry nationwide, and earned a half dozen state and national reporting awards. Its reception was such that the editors of the News & Record in Greensboro, where the series was published, nominated it for a Pulitzer Prize, the first time they had done so with any project at the paper in years.  

Catanoso’s current reporting on the impact of climate change on ecosystems ranging from rain forests and oceans to savannas and grasslands has been supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in Washington, D.C., and the Sabin Center for Environment and Sustainability at Wake Forest University. Recent work has focused on international climate change and climate policy, the intersection of faith and environment protection, and the controversy surrounding burning wood for energy and calling it carbon neutral, on par with carbon zero wind and solar energy. In late 2022, he reported on the first whistleblower from inside the multibillion-dollar wood pellet manufacturing industry to ever go public with harsh criticism of his company’s environmental claims. The story attracted global attention and led directly to a policy change regarding biomass subsidies in The Netherlands

Wake Forest biologist Miles Silman (left) and Catanoso, on the Rio Madre de Dios in the Peruvian Amazon. Photo by Ellie Bruggen

Since 2015, he has been a regular correspondent for Mongabay, a leading environmental news organization with an international following. He has covered seven UN climate summits, in Lima, Peru, in 2014,; in Paris, France, in 2015; Marrakesh, Morocco, in 2016; in Bonn, Germany, in 2017; in Katowice, Poland; in 2018; in Madrid, Spain in 2019; and in Glasgow, Scotland in 2021. He also covered the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco in September 2018.

Catanoso has published travel stories and journalism from the U.S., Italy, Spain, Austria, Scotland, Thailand, Peru, Belize, Canada, France, Germany, Morocco and South Africa.

He has worked at daily newspapers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and North Carolina. And his freelance writing has appeared in The Washington Monthly, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, BusinessWeek, National Public Radio, National Geographic Daily News, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, News & Observer of Raleigh, Business North Carolina, Charlotte Business Journal, News & Record of Greensboro, Pacific Standard, Yahoo News, BusinessInsider, Elle.com, Catholic Digest, the Interfaith Observer and airline magazines for US Airways and Delta.20111003catanoso4063

After 13 years as founding executive editor of The Business Journal in Greensboro, N.C., he is now a professor of journalism at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C, and directed the program from 2011-2016. He teaches courses in reporting, editing and news literacy. In summers, since 2014, he has led a course in international reporting for Wake Forest students. He taught in Rome, Italy, for three years — 2014-2016. The course moved to the Peruvian Amazon in summer 2017, where he co-teaches with WFU tropical ecologist Miles Silman. His were the first study abroad courses in journalism Wake Forest ever offered. 

At Wake Forest, Catanoso is a board member of the Andrew Sabin Family Center for Environment and Sustainability. He also serves as a communications adviser to CINCIA, a conservation NGO based in Puerto Maldonado, Peru, and funded by the US Agency for International Development, and the Peru Science for Parks project, funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

In May 2008, William Morrow, a division of HarperCollins, published his family memoir in a North American release titled “My Cousin the Saint, A Search for Faith, Family, and Miracles.” It was a Book of the Month Club selection, and recommended summer reading by the Order Sons of Italy in America. Harper Perennial released the book in paperback in 2009.

In a review, The Washington Post called his book: “A fascinating quest for ancestry and an illuminating wrestling with faith.”

Catanoso graduated from Penn State University in 1982 with a BA degree in journalism and in 1993 from Wake Forest with an MA degree in Liberal Studies. He has three grown daughters, Emilia, Rosalie and Sophia Catanoso, and a grandson, Simon Joseph Catanoso.

His Wikipedia page.

Email at jcatanoso@gmail.com or on Twitter @jcatanoso

Author portraits by Ken Bennett of Wake Forest University.