2023 Journalists of the Year
Manka Behl, The Times of India; Damian Carrington, the Guardian; and Amy Westervelt, founder of Critical Frequency.
In 2023, the Covering Climate Now Journalism Awards judges selected three Journalists of the Year for extraordinary and growing bodies of work.
Manka Behl reports for The Times of India from the frontlines of the crisis in one of the world’s most climate-important countries. Damian Carrington’s science-based reporting for the Guardian explains that politics and corporate power, not a lack of green technologies, are what block climate progress. Amy Westervelt’s prolific, multi-platform reporting for Critical Frequency exposes how fossil fuel companies continue to mislead the public and policymakers alike.
Meet the Journalists of the Year below, with tributes by CCNow executive director Mark Hertsgaard.
Learn more about the other 2023 Covering Climate Now Journalism Award winners.
Senior Correspondent, The Times of India
As a Times of India senior correspondent, Manka Behl has demonstrated exemplary dedication, persistence, and creativity in covering key aspects of the climate story in a country that affects, and is affected by, the climate emergency like few others today. Even as she has excelled at interviews with such climate luminaries as UN Secretary-General António Guterres and COP26 president Alok Sharma, Behl has reported in the rural villages of India to bring into the public conversation the voices of the people most affected by climate change.
Some of Behl’s most affecting articles have exposed how the same industrial practices that increase global greenhouse gas concentrations also worsen the local air, water, and soil pollution that afflict nearby communities as uncaring companies aided by poor government regulation put profits ahead of people.
As a younger person who, like the rest of her generation, must live the rest of her life with the choices being made today, Behl brings an understandable passion to her reporting, as well as a focus on solutions. Her overriding allegiance is to presenting the facts as they stand so that readers can grasp the situation confronting them and act accordingly. Newsrooms all over the world would benefit from having their own versions of a Manka Behl covering climate change for them.
Environment Editor, The Guardian
Damian Carrington has broken countless big climate stories during his 15 years as environment correspondent for the Guardian, including perhaps the most revealing climate expose of 2022: “Carbon Bombs,” which identified by name, location, and responsible corporate and/or government entity some 195 gigantic oil or gas projects in the planning stages that, if operated, would hurl the planet past the 1.5-degree-Celsius target of the Paris Agreement. Co-authored with Matthew Taylor, “Carbon Bombs” was accountability journalism at its finest, shining light on the powerful state and private interests roasting the climate that today’s young people will inherit. (Carrington’s follow-up investigation, in 2023, did much the same for methane bombs, which are even more potent than carbon bombs.)
Carrington also excels at daily coverage, notably regarding the science of climate change. He consistently recognizes, usually before anyone else, the studies that really matter, translates them into plain English without dumbing them down, and does not flinch from conveying the full conclusions scientists have reached. Yet he is no prisoner of gloom-and-doom. He writes often about solutions, making the essential point that humanity already possesses most of the technologies needed to honor the 1.5-degree-C goal. What’s been lacking, he has observed, is “the political will to push aside vested interests and radically pursue the policies that will work.”
Founder and Host, Critical Frequency podcast network
Amy Westervelt is a triple threat. She is prolific, turning out an astonishing amount of work that is never less than first-rate. Westervelt writes great print stories (for the Guardian and The Nation, among others). She reports, produces, and presents irresistible audio pieces. Her podcast “Drilled,” aided by her superb vocal delivery, won a 2021 CCNow Journalism Award, and her podcast “Damages” won in the audio category this year. Most of all, Westervelt does kickass investigative reporting, breaking story after story that redefines our collective understanding of what the climate crisis is really about: not a science or policy argument but a bare-knuckled fight by fossil fuel companies to preserve the status quo even though this would bring about the end of civilization as we know it.
Because this perspective is unwelcome at some mainstream news organizations, Westervelt has also had to develop the skill of entrepreneurship. After being told over and over by potential commercial sponsors that “no one wants to hear a podcast about Big Oil and climate change,” Westervelt launched “Drilled” herself. She raised a modest amount of seed capital to build a small team — including her co-host, Mary Annaïse Heglar, one of the most important voices on the climate beat talking about racial and gender intersectionality. Within a year, “Drilled” became a must-listen for climate activists and attracted a large enough audience that mainstream investors came knocking.