The Covering Climate Now Journalism Awards 2023 Finalists
Congratulations to all the finalists, selected from nearly 1,100 entries from around the world.
Covering Climate Now is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2023 Covering Climate Now Journalism Awards, now in its third year, honoring the best global coverage of the climate emergency and its solutions.
A panel of distinguished judges selected 76 finalists from nearly 1,100 entries, representing news outlets from six continents. Our judges discovered exceptional climate journalism from media of all kinds and sizes all over the world, including powerful reportage from the frontlines of the crisis, investigative reports holding power to account, in-depth examinations of climate change’s impacts on the most vulnerable, and interrogations of solutions that could still avert the worst.
This year’s finalists include journalists from such major outlets as CBS News Sunday Morning, the Los Angeles Times, Deutsche Welle, Reuters, BBC World News, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and Aktuellt on Swedish National Television, as well as smaller media enterprises including Africa Uncensored, StateImpact Pennsylvania, InfoNile, LAist, and Grist.
Video — Documentary
For decades, illegal small-scale gold mining has destroyed forests and polluted water bodies with heavy metal concentrations in Ghana despite government efforts to put a stop to it. Led by news director Erastus Donkor, this resourceful media crew took considerable risks to report on the current reality. They ventured deep into forest reserves, even deploying drones, to gather compelling documentary evidence of the ongoing gross violations of national mining laws that cause devastating environmental impacts linked to climate change. Broadcast on Ghana’s 24-hour news channel, the three-part documentary “Destruction for Gold” generated a public debate about the impact of illegal mining on the future of agriculture, food sustenance, and water supply by illuminating the existential threat of illegal mining. One judge said, “This story is at the core of what investigative journalism — and journalists — are all about. Donkor followed the story and generated a public forum for change.”
TBS TV Seoul
Sung Myungjoo, Kang Mina, Ahn Seo Hee, Kim Hak Jae, Kim Jaeho, and Kim Dongchan
Filmmaker Sung Myungjoo produced this captivating documentary of a Korean adaptation of “The [uncertain] Four Seasons,” a musical climate project launched by global advertising agency AKQA in 2021 that engaged orchestras worldwide. This dark revision of Vivaldi’s masterpiece imagines the four seasons in Korea in 2050 after climate change has worsened. Tapping into a powerful emotional response by talking about the climate crisis through music, Myungjoo’s documentary interweaves interviews with the musicians about this discordant music’s ominous message, footage of a rapidly-degrading Seoul, and scientists’ explainers of climate change. Poignantly, viewers see representations of nature disappear as temperatures rise, with beloved local birds no longer able to tolerate the heat.
People’s Weather CH 180 DSTv
Filmmaker Julie Laurenz is from KwaZulu Natal on the East Coast of South Africa, where this documentary is set. The area is also home to one of the largest coal deposits in the country. While many countries are disinvesting from fossil fuels and clamping down on the industries that contribute to climate change, unfortunately, South Africa is forging ahead. Laurens has previously reported on the damaging effects of coal extraction on communities situated near the mines, and over years she has built trust with women who are activists in the community. This documentary is, in essence, their story. Laurens’s focus is Mam’Fikile, a courageous activist who was murdered for taking a stand. Through interviews with Mam’Fikile’s daughter, her grandson, friends, and other activists, she reports on a community’s effort to block a coal mine and the divisive tactics of the coal mine company to pit neighbor against neighbor. An incredibly moving story of resistance and beautifully shot, the documentary, one judge noted, “offers an important message regarding the enormous risks that face environmental and climate activists all over the world, and especially in the Global South.”
“What do you do when the forces of nature push you out of the house that you built with your own hands?” So begins this harrowing documentary of families brought to their knees by the flooding of Lakes Nakuru and Baringo in Kenya. In this underreported region, filmmaker Cynthia Gichiri centers the experiences of families who lost their homes to rising water and are now trying to survive in makeshift dwellings. A homeowner in Nakuru, who had saved and labored to build a home 10 kilometers from the lakefront, now lives with depression after losing it all. In Baringo, families face a fight for survival against venomous snakes brought onto the land by flooding. They resort to spreading dirty waste oil from a motorcycle engine in front of their door as a snake repellant so they can sleep safely at night. These close-up and personal stories reveal the frightening reality of a World Bank warning that predicts over 86 million Africans will be forced to migrate within their countries due to climate change by 2050. One judge observed, this documentary vividly “lays out the multiple, compounding and collateral effects of the climate crisis.”
Raney Aronson Rath, Andrew Metz, Dan Edge, Jane McMullen, Gesbeen Mohammad, Robin Barnwell, James Jacoby, Eamonn Matthews, Sara Obeidat, Emma Supple, Russell Gold, Sarah Waldron, Lauren Ezell, Katherine Griwert
This eye-opening, three-part documentary series helmed by executive producer Raney Aronson Rath reveals how Big Oil companies in the US knew long ago that their products could unleash catastrophic climate change but choose to lie about that to keep the profits coming. Part One charts the fossil fuel industry’s early research on climate change and investigates industry efforts to sow seeds of doubt about the science. Part Two explores the industry’s efforts to stall climate policy, even as evidence about climate change grew more certain in the new millennium. Part Three examines how the industry has worked to delay the transition to renewable energy — including by promoting gas as a supposedly cleaner alternative. Garnering major press coverage, the series reached over 4 million viewers.
Warm and generous, this story brings us to western Kenya, where in the absence of high-tech early warning systems a community has banded together to provide actionable weather and climate information to residents. And not a moment too soon: In recent years, Kisumu County has suffered temperature spikes and frequent flooding, resulting in catastrophic losses for local farmers. The inclusive, participatory solution that Kisumu has implemented is explored here through a compelling cast of characters, strong interviews, and striking imagery. Our judges remarked especially on the optimism of this piece; indeed, while the people of Kisumu might have much to lament amid the climate crisis, journalists David Owino and Duncan Lukoye prefer to point their camera at those who are intent on helping the region thrive. As one judge put it, this story is “a celebration of community.”
Video — Long Form
“Erosion takes away all your dreams, it takes away everything.” So says one resident of Brazil’s Bailique archipelago, a collection of islands where the Amazon River meets the Atlantic. For Le Monde, Patrick Vanier travels to the archipelago, where sea rise and coastal erosion are decimating a way of life for thousands. Vanier additionally explores how intensive farming and political negligence have worsened matters, impressively weaving the interplay of such human folly with climate change. The result is a stirring portrait of a community in crisis. Exceptional on-the-ground reporting is complemented by stellar visuals and graphics. Heartfelt interviews, from a wide range of community members, round out this complete package.
In this episode of Al Jazeera English’s series earthrise, executive producer and correspondent Amanda Burrell reveals how the law is becoming a powerful tool for climate action as UK activists use their country’s judiciary to override short-term thinking by politicians and businesses. The program brings viewers to the Royal Courts of Justice in London, where three non-governmental organizations bring a case against the government for allegedly violating its Net Zero Strategy. This legal tactic, wielding existing civil and human rights law, was first used in The Hague, where a series of court judgments made legal history by ordering the energy giant Royal Dutch Shell to slash emissions. Now citizens around the world from Germany to Pakistan are taking inspiration, with 70 cases filed to compel governments and corporations to take science-based actions against climate change.
In this episode of the BBC series Extreme Conservation, Michaela Strachan reports on a nation of 1,200 islands and the consequences of climate change on its indescribable beauty and its culture. The people of the Maldives depend on the coral reefs for protection from increasing wave energy, for income, and for survival. Coral reef destruction by warming oceans as well as unsustainable development is an existential threat. As Strachan travels from island to island, she focuses on pioneering ideas that could save the reefs by bolstering regrowth. The visuals take full advantage of the islands’ stunning scenery to bring drama to the urgency of the battle that the Maldives are facing, both from climate change and unsustainable development. With an infectious enthusiasm for their innovation, expertise, and commitment, Strachan introduces passionate scientists and entrepreneurs developing new solutions that hold promise for restoring the coral reefs and containing byproducts of over development.
From the frontlines of climate change in northwest Nigeria, Rakiya Abubakar Muhammad explored the intersecting impacts of climate change in the Kwanni community of Sokoto State and how inequities are hurting the most vulnerable residents. Most residents in the community of Kwanni are low-income, and resources are scarce to adapt and prepare for climate change. With this deep dive into an area where climate change is causing an avalanche of human suffering, Muhammad reveals how climate-caused flooding and erosion have compounded existing problems of poverty. Centering the voices of mothers, shopkeepers, grandfathers, and children trying to cope, this stark report illuminates how high the stakes of climate change already are for whole populations in Africa.
Somalia is among the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change, even as its greenhouse gas emissions are among the lowest. VICE News correspondent Alec Luhan reports on how a record drought driven by climate change brought the country to the brink of famine. Five hundred children had already died in care centers and more than 1 million people had been displaced when the story was produced; tens of thousands more have died subsequently. Luhan’s team filmed the dangerous journey to camps for displaced people and the inadequate medical care that the weakest, most of them children, received there. The piece reframed the drought as a climate justice issue for the Global North, rather than just another humanitarian catastrophe in the Global South. It revealed how wealthy countries, which emit 20 times more CO2 than all of Africa combined, first failed in their promises to tackle postcolonial poverty in Africa and then failed to fund the UN response to the drought in Somalia so vividly documented here.
While most Germans diligently recycle and were among the first to oppose nuclear energy, Germany continues to mine and burn brown coal, which provides one-third of its electricity. Mining operations have been destroying towns and displacing thousands of residents for decades. In 2022, the village of Lützerath became the hotbed of a fight between the government and an energy company on one hand, and villagers and climate activists on the other. Activists constructed a semi-permanent camp of tree houses high in the forest to resist plans to level the village. Integrating footage of Germany’s coal-mining history with video of today’s landscape dotted with bulldozers, this program showcases how economic interests still outweigh the negative impacts of coal mining, even in a country whose government is headed by social democratic and green parties.
As greenhouse gases warm Earth, oceans play a significant role in absorbing heat that helps regulate rising temperatures. But as writer and narrator Robert Krulwich explains, there is a huge price to pay for heating the oceans. Based on the brilliant work of the physicist, science writer, and educator Aatish Bhatia who excels in explaining complex ideas in simple ways, Krulwich breaks down the interplay of the oceans, Earth, and greenhouse gases. With his mellifluous, exceedingly approachable voice, Krulwich walks audiences through the magnitude of the problem, without instilling fear but also without cutting corners on the science. Charming and playful animation directed and designed by Nate Milton brings Krulwich’s explanations to memorable life, bringing softness to the hard lessons of climate change. Reaching the vast audience of CBS Sunday Morning as they sip their coffee, this is a powerful wake-up call that goes down easy.
Video — Short Form
Hearst Television and Hearst Newspapers
This massive undertaking began with a 50-state US survey to compile contacts in every county and city who could identify the greatest regional risks to individuals, families, and communities and share innovative climate mitigation projects underway in their region. That research was the foundation for an accessible and compelling seven-part series led by chief national investigative correspondent Mark Albert. The series aired on local news programs — introduced by trusted local anchors — across the Hearst network. Albert’s reporting explicitly links local extreme weather to climate change as it identifies which counties are — and are not — taking steps to protect against climate consequences. According to Albert, the goal of the coverage was to show that a changing climate is not just divisive for politics, but a collective problem that needs a holistic approach and solutions. From a massive pipeline in Louisiana trying to protect against rising water to painstaking efforts to measure declining tree growth in New Mexico in an effort to model future forest loss to training previously incarcerated individuals for green jobs in Minnesota, viewers learned about efforts that can make a difference.
In the midst of a crippling megadrought, Ben Tracy, senior national and environmental correspondent for CBS, traveled to America’s second-largest reservoir, Lake Powell, to unpack how its unprecedentedly low water level is affecting power generation, the recreational industry, and tens of millions of urban water users in four states downstream. Making the story accessible and effectively visual, Tracy went out on the lake to see the “bathtub ring” indicating how water has dropped 40 feet, and interviewed fishing guides and utility operators struggling to keep their livelihoods and communities afloat. Then he journeyed far upstream to the most remote parts of the lake where the long-hidden and wondrous geological formations of Glen Canyon, once submerged by construction of the Glen Canyon Dam, are again visible.
Pakistan – Ground Zero (English translation)
AKTUELLT/Swedish National Television
Erika Bjerstrom and Ronald Verhoeven
In advance of COP27, the Swedish nightly news program Aktuellt went on the road to Pakistan to give its audience a clearer understanding of how climate change is already devastating lives at a time when one-third of Pakistan was under water. Global climate correspondent Erika Bjerstrom traveled to Pakistan’s bread basket in Sindh province, reporting on the aftershocks of a sudden and catastrophic flood that the UN secretary-general called “climate carnage.” This short report managed to include a lot of perspectives, including an interview with a displaced Pakistani farmer, living now with his family in a tent and facing rapidly dwindling supplies of food and water. It also introduced a Karachi-based businessman who is distributing his company’s solar panel lights that include a mobile phone charger to help stranded villagers in the absence of international aid that has been inhibited as a consequence of the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
For coverage of COP27 in Egypt, Teresa de Miguel, AP’s global video climate editor, wanted to do something different. She brought a large piece of black fabric with her from Mexico and taped it to a wall. While journalists covering the UN climate talks generally focus on interviewing the key players, de Miguel wanted to give voice to those seldom heard at the COP: Indigenous women who travel for days from all corners of the world to make an impact in the negotiations. When any attention at all is paid to Indigenous women, people often speak for or about them. In this piece, the women of Tuvalu, Guatemala, Brazil, and Cameroon speak only for themselves without narration as they describe the changes in climate that have already taken place in their lands, how their people are adapting, and how often-forgotten role of women, particularly from Indigenous communities, should be understood and valued.
Audio — Long Form
ABC’s Tracy Wholf, Ohio born and bred, teamed up with Dan Gearino, an Ohio-based reporter for Inside Climate News, to explore the community drama that emerged among neighbors when growing corn was replaced with harvesting solar energy on a farm that has been in the same family for generations. As industrial solar farms proliferate to counter climate change, they threaten to tarnish rural landscapes, provoking strong emotions. With a chatty interview style that makes the storytelling engaging, this story illuminates the social challenges posed by the transition from fossil fuels to green energy.
Eight California public radio stations
Host — Kerry Klein of KVPR Fresno
Producers — KVPR: Madi Bolaños and Kathleen Schock; North State Public Radio: Sarah Bohannon; Northern California Public Media: Greta Mart; KZYX: Alicia Bales; KAZU: Erika Mahoney and Jerimiah Oetting; KCBX: Rachel Showalter; KCLU: Lance Orozco; KVCR: Jonathan Linden. Edited by Molly Peterson and Adriene Hill.
Produced through an impressive collaboration of small public radio stations in California, this wide-ranging, hour-long climate special weaves local stories into a seamless whole that explores the high cost of climate change for largely rural communities. Each journalist brought deep local knowledge to report on the endless ways that climate change is affecting California, from its coast to its farmland and deserts. The special also highlights a range of strategies that could help vulnerable people bearing climate costs.
Focused on the under-reported connection between biofuels, high food prices, and food scarcity, this episode of the Deutsche Welle series ‘Living Planet’ foregrounds a global perspective on the widely-held claim that diluting gasoline with crop extracts is helping the planet. Reported from three countries, the piece incorporates a range of voices, including farmers in American corn country, food vendors in Kenya, and German consumers using biofuels. Scientists and activists who believe that biofuels don’t have a significant impact on mitigating climate change weigh in that hungry people could be eating the food converted into biofuels instead of putting it into gas tanks.
Dramatic hurricane damage to physical spaces gets extensive coverage, but adults and children suffer invisible long-term psychological impacts that are often underrepresented in climate crisis reporting. Jill Webb’s important story focuses on Ironton, one of Louisiana’s oldest Black towns, which has been repeatedly devastated by hurricanes. As in many marginalized communities, chronic underinvestment in basic public services leads to disproportionate impacts when extreme weather hits the people who live there. Webb reports on how death, disability, and mental health rates soar in the aftermath of these storms, bringing the magnitude of climate injustice into vivid focus.
Audio — Short Form
The connection between climate change and extreme weather can be a hard story to tell. But after a flood killed 39 people and devastated eastern Kentucky, Louisville Public Media’s energy and environment reporter Ryan Van Velzer helped listeners to understand the connection. Two local people, a woman who owned an IGA grocery store for decades and a farmer whose family had worked the same land since 1820, had the long-term perspective and credibility to reflect on the new weather reality. Van Velzer also interviewed a University of Kentucky professor who cited a 2017 government study predicting the rain would get heavy as a consequence of Kentucky’s annual temperature rising 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit over the prior 50 years. “I honestly don’t think this area has seen anything like this, at least, in recorded history.”
When a wildfire swept through much of the longstanding Black community of Lincoln Heights in rural Northern California, limited access to state and federal resources to rebuild showed how the “climate gap” can displace vulnerable communities faced with climate-driven disasters. This excellent report by Erik Neumann, told through a racial justice lens, was both urgent and relatable. Neumann wove together dramatic interviews with people who have lived in the community for generations with compelling climate justice issues, illuminating the insurance inequities that are particularly severe when homes have been passed down through families and replacement costs are significantly undervalued.
Composting is one of the most celebrated climate solutions and doing it at a large-scale is seen as a significant way to reduce methane emissions from landfills. In 2016, California passed a landmark food waste diversion law aimed at reducing the volume of food scraps that go to landfills by 75%. But when the composting law went into effect in January 2022, members of the public weren’t so sure what to do. Erin Stone’s “news you can use” report not only makes the new food scrap collection process easy to understand and implement in the home, it also encourages people to do their part by effectively explaining how individual action can lead to large-scale climate change.
A Pakistani Family Sees Firsthand the Effects of Climate Change, as Negotiators at COP27 Battle Over How to Pay for Them
As the question of whether rich countries would pay for climate-driven “loss and damage” in poorer countries was shaping up to be a key issue at COP27, Carolyn Beeler traveled to Pakistan to explore that issue on the ground. When unprecedented downpours put one-third of Pakistan underwater, Abdul Ghani and his family watched as their house was washed away. Ghani, his wife, and their three children spent the next two weeks on the roof of a local school, with no shelter, until the water subsided. Beeler’s carefully chosen audio and powerful narrative gave listeners vital human context to understand a contentious policy issue that made headlines at COP27.
Radio Podcast Series
This engaging podcast tells the story of people who are standing up for their convictions and pushing back against organizations and companies acting with disregard for the climate crisis. The production draws the listener in with moments of high drama, like an Aboriginal woman boldly approaching an energy executive at a company board meeting to present “cease and desist” papers for trespassing on her people’s land, followed by a discussion about how Australians are using the law to stop climate change. The podcast also includes relatable stories of Australians so affected by that country’s “black summer” that they felt compelled to make waves at work to change the status quo. Highlighting how everyone can take action, the podcast speaks to audiences in a way that sounds like an everyday conversation.
In this podcast series featuring international guests, Neil King explores complex aspects of the climate crisis one by one. Whether he’s delving into the possibilities of lab-grown meat or the climate impact of reforestation, King always maintains a positive tone as he asks tough questions. He skillfully explores solutions that are often-oversimplified and helps the audience come to a fuller understanding of the climate picture. He encourages listeners to consider the climate emergency and its solutions from different angles, featuring interviews with a diverse range of experts as well as people affected by proposed solutions.
The thought-provoking legal concept of “rights of nature” has been under-explored in the US, but has taken root worldwide. This gripping podcast unfolds like a TV legal drama as it follows hundreds of climate lawsuits, including attempts by local and tribal governments in American courtrooms. The theory posits that if corporations can have the same rights as individuals, why can’t nature? Bringing what could be a ponderous legal topic to life, Amy Westervelt does a masterful job of introducing listeners to people and perspectives rarely given airtime in the US. In holding power to account, she centers communities that have been disproportionately affected by the climate crisis and explores legal and policy solutions to mitigate climate change.
In the second season of How We Survive, host and senior correspondent Amy Scott takes her listeners to Miami, Fla., for an episode that weaves together economics, real estate, climate science, and human behavior. As Scott explores the challenges facing the Florida community of Little River, and by extension many coastal regions in the US, she introduces strong characters to comment on the challenges of gentrification that are exacerbated by climate change, the broken property insurance market, and investors who profit off of storm risk. Supported by a well-resourced production team, the audio design of the podcast is fresh and engaging.
Writing — Long Form
This deep dive into the harrowing debt crisis faced by many Caribbean countries — a situation fueled by costly climate disasters — blends strong characters with gripping narrative to make a complex, bureaucratic topic utterly compelling. Barbados and its prime minister, Mia Mottley, are well animated in Lustgarten’s prose, highlighting both the exasperation and resolve of developing countries that suffer first and worst from climate change while wealthy countries respond with thinly veiled attempts at exploitation. Too much coverage of vulnerable people and nations showcases devastation and disempowerment – this story frames its sources as courageous agents in the fight to save not only themselves but an entire world on the brink.
In remote Mexican communities without the resources to notice the disparity, BP was getting away with paying well below the global average price for carbon offsets. This report is thorough — reporter Max De Haldevang traveled to more than 10 such villages to build his case — and tackles important questions about climate inequality and greenwashing, all while keeping voices from the communities in question front and center. The truest mark of success for this story is its impact: After it was published, BP raised its payments to villages, the Mexican president called for regulation, legislators introduced a new bill, and the government created an education campaign to help rural communities squelch future exploitation.
Worldwide, nations’ climate commitments often hinge on massive projects designed to remove carbon from the atmosphere. But do the projects measure up to promises? For Scroll.in, Ishan Kukreti powerfully demonstrates the risk that many will turn out to be all smoke and mirrors. Combining painstaking data analysis, freedom of information requests, and on-the-ground reporting, Kukreti shows that many plantations alleged to exist as part of an Indian government afforestation program simply don’t — and that others fall far short of the breadth represented in official government documents. The discrepancies represent both an enormous waste of public money and a failure by India to fulfill global responsibilities on climate. Our judges were wowed by the scale of Kukreti’s investigation — a single journalist effectively conducting government-level oversight — and called this story “one that should make policy makers worldwide take notice.”
While we hear often that banks and major corporations are simply paying lip service to the climate fight, we seldom see exactly how that’s done as clearly as in this investigation. Under the auspices of a supposedly “green” debt tool, HSBC — which, in its own words, is “helping to lead the transition to a more sustainable world” — has in fact empowered companies to carry on with business as usual and even escalate emissions-intensive activities. In this tight and punchy piece by Josephine Moulds, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism shows greenwashing on a grand scale, approved in the plushest corporate boardrooms in the world. And tragically, the piece would seem to indicate, as the world attempts to navigate toward a low-emissions future, it’s likely just the tip of a very large and damaging iceberg.
This wonderfully assembled feature takes on an often overlooked aspect of the climate story: the accuracy of extreme weather forecasting, especially in developing countries on the climate emergency’s frontlines, where timely information can mean life or death for millions. Reporter Colin Daileda introduces readers to scientists on the cutting edge of new forecasting models in India, where increasingly erratic and violent monsoon storms are devastating communities that lacked forewarning. Bite-size chapters and compelling vignettes break up what might otherwise have been an unwieldy and over-technical inquiry into work our judges said is “An absolute joy to read.” Daileda succeeds in braiding his reporting with well-researched history to form a story that is at once informative and entertaining.
In drought-stricken southeast Arizona, reporter Jake Bittle finds a rural, libertarian-leaning community pushed to the limit by water-guzzling big agriculture — and clamoring for government regulation that once would have been anathema. Part of a larger Grist initiative examining how drought is reshaping communities across the American West, Bittle’s story homes in on surprising and nuanced themes about political identity and practical necessity that will become increasingly urgent as climate disaster mounts. These themes, which thoughtfully handled characters bring to life, elevate Bittle’s story well above the mass of coverage about resource scarcity in this region. Judges called the piece “compelling,” and ultimately, perhaps surprisingly, “hopeful.”
First responders are on the frontlines of climate disasters, but we so rarely hear their stories — certainly not through the lens of mental health that this four-part series uses to devastating effect. Indeed, the increasingly frequent task of responding to California’s megafires has resulted in a full-blown mental health crisis among firefighters, as reporter Julie Cart illuminates here with great sensitivity. But Cart doesn’t stop at the crews’ wrenching stories; she dives into the institutional factors exacerbating this crisis, factors that government agencies have been tragically slow to address. And these stories hit their mark: Responding to Cart’s work, the Cal Fire director pledged to make mental health his highest priority.
Writing Short Form
As Climate Change Worsens Hurricane Season in Louisiana, Doulas Are Ensuring Parents Can Safely Feed Their Babies
In this pitch-perfect example of intersectional climate storytelling, Jessica Kutz, gender and climate reporter for The 19th, shines a light on a rarely (if ever) observed consequence of the climate emergency: threats to nursing mothers and their babies. Following a New Orleans–based doula collective in the aftermath of 2021’s Hurricane Laura, Kutz ably demonstrates how climate-fueled disasters amplify stresses on this already vulnerable population, especially in low-income communities. Judges called Kutz’s work “thoughtful” and “fresh,” while also commending The 19th for carving out this urgently needed beat.
Up in Flames: Gas Flaring Soars in Mexico, Derailing Its Climate Change Pledges As It Seeks To Boost Oil Output and To Protect Pemex, Mexico’s Energy Ministry Tried to Block Stricter Flaring Rules
Throughout the oil production process, gas is emitted as a byproduct that fossil fuel companies often aren’t equipped to capture or process for other uses. So they burn it, a practice called “flaring” that scientists say contributes significantly to climate change. Dozens of countries, including Mexico, are party to a global pledge to end flaring entirely by 2030 — but as these stories ably demonstrate, flaring in Mexico, by state-run Petroleos Mexicanos, is dramatically on the rise. Reporter Stefanie Eschenbacher pairs vital accountability reporting with accessible prose, and she doesn’t stop at simply revealing Mexico’s violations; in villages near flaring sites, she shows the human consequences, with communities suffering environmental contamination and widespread health impacts. Judges called Eschenbacher’s work “extremely effective” and “hugely important.”
“Talk about shoe-leather reporting,” our judges said. To expose the realities of carbon credits, tools that pay communities, usually in the Global South, to protect nature so that large polluters can carry on as normal, the AP’s Ed Davey traveled hundreds of miles over muddy roads and rivers in Peru to document and verify one tribe’s claim that the government pocketed tens of millions while paying nothing to the people to whom the land lawfully belongs. At a time when the carbon offset market is booming, Davey’s work is a timely warning about the dark side of an all-too-easy climate “solution.” Judges praised the story as a testament to the power of journalism that engages with vulnerable peoples — and that presents damning evidence of the indifference that the powerful are willing to show both these people and the planet.
When it Rains, a collaborative series including The Mississippi River Basin Is Getting Wetter as Climate Change Brings Era of Extreme Rain, Floods and To Stay or to Go: Increased Flooding Forces Towns to Make Hard Choice
Warmer air holds more moisture, and as climate change drives warmer temperatures, swaths of the Mississippi River basin are getting wetter, with already devastating consequences for communities. This special series — the first of its kind by a new journalism collaboration named Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk, which banded together local reporters from eight states — explores the diverse and widespread impacts of the ensuing deluge, on economies, infrastructure, agriculture, and more. Judges were impressed by the collaboration’s initiative — journalists worked with data experts at Climate Central to analyze 50 years of rainfall patterns — and they applauded these pieces for going beyond the headlines to humanize an urgent story that threatens to grow worse.
Africa’s First Heat Officer Faces a Daunting Task and Can Liberia’s Capital Keep the Sea Out Without Hurting the Coastal Economy?
Two vivid stories, from Sierra Leone and Liberia, illustrate the challenges of protecting vulnerable communities from quickly mounting climate threats. In Freetown, a newly appointed “heat officer,” Africa’s first, endeavors to help her city cope with spiking temperatures without hampering access to the sea, on which countless livelihoods depend. Peter Yeung’s stories are well reported, feature sharp writing, and offer compelling looks at the solutions for these communities. Putting it simply, our judges said they “have it all.”
The US Could Stop One Cause of Heat Wave Deaths Tomorrow and The Most Annoying Barrier to Getting Your Home off Fossil Fuels
Rebecca Leber has become well-known for climate journalism focused on the home. Her work puts peoples’ everyday lives first and often exposes surprising cracks in systems and best-laid plans as she does in these two stories. In one, she observes that in much of the US, cool spaces remain a luxury in the summer. This leaves many people at potentially fatal risk, as temperatures hit record-highs. Despite this, few regulations prevent utilities from cutting power when vulnerable communities need it most. In another story she reports that emissions-slashing heat pumps are a much-touted solution for electrifying homes, but knowledgeable contractors are rare to come by, leaving would-be converts unable to take advantage of government incentives. Leber’s work is at once authoritative and accessible. This is “news you can use” in the truest sense, and at this critical moment for climate action, her stories are right on time.
The climate crisis is exacerbating the challenging living conditions of Asia’s ecologically fragile Sundarbans, which runs from southern Bangladesh into India’s West Bengal State, which Ritwika Mitra describes as “one of the most climate vulnerable locations on the planet.” At the intersection of the climate crisis, gender-based violence, and generational trauma, her story explores the ripple effects of repeated natural disasters and environmental changes on a highly vulnerable population and how the lack of comprehensive rehabilitation packages for victims of sex trafficking further marginalizes them. Mitra’s reporting includes intensely personal interviews with child trafficking survivors, as well as interviews with activists, lawyers, environmental experts, and government officials to reveal how sexual violence is part of the bigger problem of climate injustice with the global south bearing a huge burden of this issue.
Rebuild | Reburn, Parts 2, 3, and 4
With several California towns leveled by megafires in recent years, this series of commentaries by two Los Angeles Times columnists asked a bold, uncomfortable question: With climate change making such fires more likely, is the enormous expense of rebuilding leveled towns worth it? Government leaders wouldn’t touch the question, so Erika D. Smith and Anita Chabria embarked on their own investigation. The result is a sweeping, deeply human, unflinching series that our judges said pushed forward their own perception of what news commentary can be and achieve. Smith and Chabria’s four-part investigative report takes stock of the California fires story so far and advances it by miles, combining reporting, exhaustive research, and rigorous data analysis. They arrive at conclusions that are as challenging as they are compelling.
Toxic Nostalgia, From Putin to Trump to the Trucker Convoys and From Blah, Blah, Blah to Blood, Blood, Blood
Naomi Klein’s reputation precedes her in climate circles, where she is a giant in the field. Our judges were impressed by Klein’s ability to weave deceivingly disparate narratives into a compelling and convincing whole. A month into Russia’s war in Ukraine, Klein linked the motives driving Russian president Vladimir Putin to those driving far-right politics in the US and asked if we will take the opportunity of this seminal moment to finally break away from fossil fuels. And in the leadup to Egypt’s COP27, she exposed the hypocrisies and greenwashing that are subsuming the world’s largest climate conference, through the dire story of one political prisoner, Alaa Abd El Fattah. Throughout both pieces, one message is urgent and direct: Humanity is capable of change, and we have a duty to act.
Over the past several years, Mary Annaïse Heglar has established herself as a sharp and singular presence in the climate space, through thoughtful essays and as co-host of the Hot Take podcast. “We live in a society that encourages us to give ourselves permission to feel bad, but never to feel better,” she writes of the special burden foisted upon Black women who take part in the always-churning public discourse. “It felt like the climate movement was trying to fit me into a box labeled ‘The Black Friend,’” Heglar writes. “I’ve never been good at setting boundaries, so I was chronically overcommitted, juggling calendars and time zones.” Heglar describes healing that she found by sharing her experiences with fellow Black women in the climate field — and, indeed, readers have found catharsis in her words. To others, the piece serves up a profound and much-needed caution, about how much we ask in the name of our work, and of whom. Judges called Heglar’s essay “urgent” and “superb.”
Reporting from California and across the American West, Sammy Roth is telling the climate story from every angle. In his weekly Boiling Point newsletter, he takes up stories from the political and bureaucratic — the posturing of electric and gas utility providers, for example — to the natural and wild — the uncertain fate of America’s buffalo herds. Writing in the first person, Roth gives readers a window into his reporting process, the result being complex subjects made quickly accessible. For readers with climate anxiety, Boiling Point never misses the solutions angle. Roth imbues his stories with empathy, especially stories about the people on the frontlines of the climate emergency. A curated selection of West Coast climate and energy news, both from the LA Times and other outlets, rounds out this exceptional product.
The Guardian’s climate journalists
In the Guardian’s own words, the aim of Down to Earth is to demystify the climate story and empower readers. By our judges’ reading, the newsletter does that and more. Each newsletter edition begins with original reporting and analysis from among the Guardian’s many excellent climate journalists; here, judges appreciated writers’ clear explanations of the climate connection to extreme weather, for example, and efforts to bring big topics down to the human level. Beyond the substantive introductions, judges noted the newsletter’s high production value and its tidy and entertaining headline round-up, which files stories under “The good news,” “The bad news,” and “Essential reads.” Put simply, the judges said: “This newsletter does everything well.”
Offering a digest of news, features, and podcasts about climate change across the Mediterranean region, Lapilli excels at inviting readers into the climate story. In each monthly edition, journalist Guglielmo Mattioli quickly grabs readers’ attention and proceeds to unpack climate’s complex intersections with other social and environmental issues. Subjects taken up have included record European heatwaves, drought in Northern Africa, and dramatic floods in Italy, Turkey, and the Balkans — but room is saved for optimism, with other editions looking at resilience farming and strategies for cooling down cities. Judges appreciated in particular the personal touches Mattioli brings to this newsletter, which make its content all the more accessible. Strong, appealing visuals seal the deal.
A purposefully time-limited newsletter, Political Climate delivered weekly updates on Ontario’s elections in June 2022. This is audience service at its finest: The newsletter was created in direct response to readers wanting to know more about the race from an environmental and climate change perspective. Indeed, as The Narwhal’s Ontario bureau chief wrote for the newsletter’s introduction, most politics stories “[skimmed] over Ontario itself: the farmland that feeds us, the water we drink and the wildlife that lives here, too.” The newsletter reported on these stories and more throughout the campaign season, even delivering a kick of accountability. And notably, readers responded in kind, with the newsletter driving hundreds of donations to support The Narwhal’s journalism. A fun, comic-book motif, designed to convey the frenetic pace of the campaign season, hits its mark.
Where once white snow and ice covered the majestic Himalayas, shards of black now stand out starkly in Zakir Hossain Chowdhury’s photographs as melting glaciers expose the rocks beneath. Massive melt in the upper Himalayas caused by climate change is feeding the overflow of major rivers. One-fifth of the world’s population lives on these river banks, in communities irreparably altered. A Bangladesh-based visual journalist, Chowdhury clearly frames this as a story of climate change and human rights. The scale of some of his images is staggering, but he is equally adept at zooming in on the consequences of climate change for people in these vulnerable communities. They did not cause the problem. But from a family who has lost their cropland to the crowded boats that are now home to people whose houses are flooded, his poignant images show how they are bearing the burden.
Every year, from October through December, a deadly haze hangs over New Delhi. Around 2 million farmers across the states of Punjab and Haryana burn paddy residue after harvesting rice to clear the field before planting wheat. Smita Sharma explored how cultural traditions strongly influence agricultural practices. She interviewed and photographed farmers who are leading the change, mulching the rice stubble into their soil while planting wheat with a new crop tool. Her testimonials and photographs are now being used to educate farmers in the region.
In the aftermath of a period of extreme ocean warming, the snow crab population off the Alaskan coast imploded, forcing fishermen to venture into icy waters much farther north in the Bering Sea. Visual journalist Loren Holmes accompanied a crew on the fishing boat Pinnacle as it braved freezing spray to fill its meager quota of only half a boat-load. Holmes’s photographs of the men who do this dangerous and frustrating work — now requiring greater risk and less reward due to climate change — provided a very human counterpoint to a reporter’s multimedia story on the collapse of an Alaskan fishery. Their journalism sparked additional coverage in other major media, and brought the climate-driven plight of Alaskan fishermen to the attention of the US Congress.
Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in Kenya has been overwhelmed with rescue operations. As baby elephants try to follow their mothers across lands parched by the worst drought in 40 years, they are sometimes abandoned or lost. “The land is dry as we have never seen before and adult animals are either dying or abandoning their breed.” With striking photos that take viewers on an emotional rollercoaster, photojournalist Luis Tato captures both the heart-rending sadness of a dead elephant’s carcass beneath a barren tree, as well as the incredible intimacy between elephant calves and their human keepers at the rescue sanctuary. As the workers feed, play with, and watch over the baby elephants, their commitment to and love for the animals shines through.
The Dying River
Distribution by Panos Pictures to Newsweek Japan, Stern Magazine, and more
The Colorado River once stretched more than 2,000 kilometers, from the snow-capped slopes of the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of California. But since the 1980s, the river has been drying up, partly due to less snowfall in the mountains as a consequence of climate change. Over 44 million people depend on the river for water, and there’s an increasing struggle for water rights to meet the demands of agriculture and metropolitan areas. Freelance photojournalist Jonas Kakó wields evocative photographs rather than numbers to tell the story. Focusing on the people affected by the decline in river flow and the diversion of water, he captures the bleak prospects of local Indigenous communities along the river’s course.
In the blue-dark of a snowy nightscape, a singular laser shoots into the stars from the most northern civilian settlement in the world. Here on the Svalbard Archipelago in Norway, there’s a village where the air is ultra-clean, wifi is banned, and all buildings remain unlocked in case you need to hide from polar bears. Anna Filipova, a journalist and researcher who has been based in the Arctic for a decade, took breathtaking photography in this crystalline air and reported this story about a small, intrepid community of research scientists stationed among the Northern Lights to measure the greenhouse gas levels that are driving climate change.
The Illegal Airstrips Bringing Toxic Mining to Brazil’s Indigenous Land
The Brazilian Amazon, which is critical for our planet’s survival, functioning as an enormous sponge that absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, is constantly at risk of destruction, including by illegal miners. This extensive investigative project was facilitated by the Pulitzer Center’s Rainforest Investigations Network in partnership with Earthrise Media. Working collaboratively, and using an AI tool developed by The New York Times to parse thousands of satellite images, reporters identified more than 1,200 active and unregistered airstrips that are supporting illegal mining throughout the Amazon, including on government-protected Indigenous land. Judges were “blown away” and said the “incredibly ambitious effort paid off.” Brazil’s new environment minister has cited the investigation’s findings in her speeches and positions.
When disasters strike, what happens to people who are incarcerated and cannot flee? Reporter Alleen Brown and research engineer Akil Harris juxtaposed datasets for heat, wildfire, and flood risk with a federal index of more than 6,500 prison facilities across the US. They found that many facilities were already feeling the squeeze of a changing climate — with prisoners left to suffer in smokey, sweltering, and flooded cells. Across multiple stories, a documentary video, a podcast, and more, Brown and Harris offered a harrowing, urgent picture. Judges were particularly impressed with efforts to make their data publicly available and accessible, empowering other journalists and interested parties to pick up the story where they left off. This is public-service journalism of a high order.
Fredrick Mugira, Annika McGinnis, Janet Njunge, Nuru Saadun, Fred Mwasa, Sylidio Sebuharara, Sylivester Domasa, Andrew Aijuka, Cliff Abenaitwe, Kajumba Godfrey, Megan S. Lee, Ronald Musoke, Emma Kisa, Tricia Govindasamy, Jacopo Ottaviani, Sakina Salem, Ruth Mwizeere, and Jennifer Kwon
This massive undertaking involved journalists from Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya working together over two years to document the ravages of climate change — and of fossil fuel extraction and deforestation — on lakes across the Nile River basin. In Tanzania, Lake Manyara is at risk of drying up. In Uganda, oil drilling threatens Lake Albert’s biodiversity. And more. Partnering with Code for Africa, the journalists make use of a wide range of media, including video, data visualization, illustration, and drone and satellite imagery, to form this deeply impressive kaleidoscope picture. Judges called the visuals “stunning” and praised the diversity of narratives, which crisscross beats to show just how integral these lakes are to their surrounding communities. InfoNILE engaged with news outlets across East Africa to help these stories reach a wider audience, for whom they’re directly and urgently relevant.
Alejandro Melgoza Rocha, Omar Sánchez de Tagle, Iñigo Arredondo Vera, Melissa del Pozo Sánchez, Omar Torres Bobadilla, Enrique de la Mora, Williams Castañeda, Adrián Tinoco, David Rodríguez Medina, Tomás Benítez Contreras, Roberto Carlos Silva Aguilar, and Paul Ramírez
“Everyone wants to have a piece of paradise,” begins this exceptional investigation by N+Focus, the multiformat investigative unit of Mexico’s NMás news service. Surveying two decades of explosive growth in Tulum, Mexico, journalists chronicled how a race for profit has proceeded with destructive disregard for local mangroves, forests, and coral reefs — jeopardizing a critical ecosystem for carbon sequestration. N+Focus names the names of businessmen, politicians, and companies, both foreign and domestic, party to the destruction and further debunks their many promised sustainability schemes. Judges applauded the story’s investigative rigor and rich visuals, which include strong photography, drone and satellite imagery, and data visualizations.
In this ambitious effort to capture the climate story unfolding for everyday Malaysians, journalists document the severe regional climate impacts, including flooding, failed crops, food insecurity, and ruined livelihoods, that are affecting thousands. Sleek graphics are complemented by curated crowd-sourced photo and video. And a smart tool allows Malaysian readers to enter their locations and see custom data graphics about temperature rise and erratic rainfall patterns. Our judges especially enjoyed the clear and accessible explanations of science underlying climate change. This is work designed to serve its audience — it was published in three languages, English, Malay, and Chinese — and it does so with great aplomb.
RTÉ News, Ireland
RTÉ News launched a year-long social-first series to highlight how ordinary people in Ireland are responding to the climate and biodiversity crises. The series shifts the focus away from politicians, scientists and policy experts to individuals who are passionately and effectively engaged in climate action at a local level. Led by Philip Bromwell, Digital Native Content Editor for RTÉ, a team of three mobile journalists created 50 videos that were filmed and edited on iPhones. The subjects tell their own stories as they describe what they are doing, the impact it is having, and why it matters — to them and to the public. The videos were optimized for audiences using mobile phones to access content on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube, bringing what can be a distant or overwhelming subject into the palm of the hand and transforming a global issue into something that feels local, personal, and even solvable. While Climate Heroes was social-first, accompanying articles were also published on the RTÉ website.
Video journalist Nabihah Parkar is helping VICE News grow its TikTok followers by breaking down complex news stories for younger audiences and championing young people living with the impacts of climate change in communities worldwide. As the COP27 conference took place in Egypt, the feed featured a series of original vertical videos that were produced specifically for a TikTok-first audience, giving marginalized voices a space to raise their concerns from the frontlines of the climate crisis. Each video focuses on a young person in a different corner of the world experiencing their own unique climate issue. From a climate activist in Pakistan who lived through the extreme heatwaves and flooding in 2022 to a fisherman in the Philippines who is trying to make a living during more frequent and intense typhoons, Parkar finds young people to speak directly to other young people about the realities of global warming.
@postclimate on Instagram: Here and here
The Washington Post
The Washington Post launched the dedicated Instagram @postclimate in July 2022 to reach younger audiences and make the Post a go-to source for climate news on social. Led by Erica Snow, the social team works closely with the main @washingtonpost Instagram feed to share resources. Video producers and designers create Reels and graphics that followers can share and save. Because young people know they will endure climate impacts throughout their lives, it is an existential and frightening issue for them. The feed aims to uplift its audience by spotlighting climate solutions, scientific innovations, and utility journalism/news they can use.
Sean Holman, Aldyn Chwelos, Francesca Fionda, Paula Carlson, Jessie Johnston, Tyler Olsen, Rob Smith, Tosh Sherkat, Suzanne Kilroy/Huculak, Paul Voll, Jordi Williams, Eleni Vlahiotis, Julie Chapman, Geena Mortfield, Gage Smith, and Phil McLachlan
Involving a network of professors and students at post-secondary institutions in Canada, the Climate Disaster Project is a teaching newsroom that brings the compelling and authentic stories of people in climate disaster–affected communities to the foreground. In its first year, the innovative approach of the Climate Disaster Project used journalism to build empathy, solidarity, and community around climate experiences by sharing the heart-wrenching experiences of survivors from marginalized and Indigenous communities in Western Canada. Students were trained to interview climate disaster survivors, and they often involved the interview subjects themselves in creating questions to produce the most meaningful answers. These oral histories were adapted into “as-told-to” articles. The Climate Disaster Project established local news media partnerships, so the published stories reached wide and diverse audiences.
Meeting people where they are — in this case by texting — is always a good idea. Rachel McDevitt had the novel idea of starting a texting club to expand distribution of her energy and climate reporting. She turned it into a two-way street that produced a brilliant piece of engagement journalism. Through the texting club, McDevitt tapped into her audience’s questions and curiosity about switching to an electric vehicle and their concerns about range, charging, and the driving experience. Then she went on a road trip in a rented EV. McDevitt visited a dealership and spoke to experts in emissions and manufacturing, all fodder for a multimedia package with photos, videos, and a personal radio essay about her experience. This simple, actionable approach should inspire similar approaches to a range of climate topics.
Environmental Justice Engagement in the US South
One judge referred to this entry as a master class in engagement journalism. A nonprofit media company founded to serve communities facing climate injustice in the American South, Southerly built strong relationships with local organizations to ensure that the stories they published were useful and sourced from local knowledge. Through an innovative training program, reporter Lindsey Gilpin shared news gathering skills, giving local people agency and providing access to critical information. Southerly’s projects in multiple states combined a focus on engaging the community with a commitment to build the community’s capacity to report and distribute information relevant to its members.
What Does Your Food Have to Do With the Invasion of Indigenous Lands
Watch the film here
On one side of a fence, in the middle of a dense forest in Brazil, the Mỹky people grow a variety of foods, such as cassava, pequi, and cabriteiro fruit. On the other side are open lands where farmers raise cattle. The reality, however, is that the boundaries are far from clear. And the consequence, deeply investigated by a multinational collaboration of journalists, is that illegal meat has ended up in the global beef supply chain. What makes this painstaking investigative report a great piece of engagement journalism as well is how the journalists worked with a collective of Mỹky filmmakers, equipping them to collect video and audio testimonies from their own community about incursions onto Indigenous territory and providing drones to gather evidence of land invasion. The resulting work gives voice to people who have lived on this land for generations and are at risk of losing it.
Alejandro de la Garza joined TIME just over four years ago, rapidly progressing from intern to staff writer and carving out his beat covering the clean energy transition with a mix of in-depth reporting, analysis, and profiles. A judge noted: “Covering new funding for electric school buses, de la Garza put the day’s news in perspective by bringing attention to an overlooked aspect of President Biden’s Infrastructure Plan.” His timely piece about Margaret Klein Salamon brought her name into the mainstream as the woman funding the radical climate activists throwing food at art. His exclusive reporting on how the Army Corps of Engineers bent the rules to better protect New Orleans from hurricanes was referenced in a 2022 FEMA National Preparedness Report.
Olivia Ebertz’s work chronicles the threat of climate change to Southwestern Alaska’s Indigenous Yup’ik with stories that examine issues such as how climate change has exacerbated wildfires and how the massive collapse of wild salmon stocks disrupts an entire food chain that is dependent on biodiversity. The only local journalist covering these topics for KYUK radio, the nation’s first radio station owned and operated by Native Americans, Ebertz reported extensively on the environment in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Region, where temperatures are warming at three times the rate of the lower 48 and having a dramatic impact on the livelihoods and culture of Indigenous people. Ebertz’s stories catapulted the discussion on climate change–caused challenges they face into the national and statewide spheres, picked up by NPR and media, including Gothamist and The Washington Post.
Sanket Jain is an independent journalist and documentary photographer based in Western India’s Maharashtra state. Since August 2019, he has been reporting on the intersection of climate change, agriculture, and public health. He submitted stories about climate change leading to a rise in bonded labor, the rarely covered topic of mental health impacts of climate change, and how the climate crisis particularly affects women and health workers. One judge said: “I love Jain’s writing! His creative and engaging stories show great boots-on-the-ground reporting.” Jain has a talent for finding interesting angles, such as a story on how athletes are impacted by recurring floods and heat waves. Commenting on the photographs in the article, one judge said: “Jain is able to work visually as well as with text producing striking human-focused photographs.” Jain’s work largely appears in alternative media including PARI, an interesting media collective that generates and hosts reporting on the Indian countryside.
Hellen Shikanda, the health and science reporter at Kenya’s Nation Media Group, started covering climate change in 2019 to replace a colleague who left and subsequently found herself engrossed in the beat, where she now is part of the newly-formed Nation climate desk. Shikanda’s coverage of Kenya is as wide-ranging as the climate change impacts are there. In one story, she reports on the impact of drought, while in another, it is the impact of endless rain and flooding. She is always close to the place she covers, finding people with stories to tell about how climate change has affected their lives on a daily basis, not only displacing families, but also creating the very real danger of violence as people struggle to adapt to the new realities. Shikanda has been tenacious in finding opportunities to deepen her understanding of the field to be able, she says, “to write impactful stories that inspire policy change and lead to a better future for the people of Kenya.” With a Climate Tracker fellowship, she traveled to cover COP27 and was invited to be an event panelist due to the expertise she has acquired writing about the environmental impact of cattle. During press briefings at COP27, Shikander asked tough questions, producing stories that helped to set a new tone for the climate conversation in her country.
Student Journalists of the Year
Christian Elliott went to Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism already equipped with a degree in environmental science and convinced that the way to communicate political, economic, and scientific complexity, is to keep real people at the heart of the story. His focus is audio journalism. A cold pitch to Deutsche Welle’s Living Planet podcast opened the door to a series of stories Elliott produced as a student. With borrowed equipment from a local NPR member station, he interviewed members of Indigenous Meskwaki Tribe on their resilient regenerative approach to agriculture in the face of climate change — while figuring out how to block the wind from a microphone. On a trip to Washington State, he met a fleet of Quinault Indian Nation fishermen experiencing increasingly unpredictable ocean conditions while in pursuit of Dungeness crabs, and reported on how they are preparing for the reality of coming climate changes to protect their livelihood. And for his capstone project, Elliott joined a team at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center studying the tidal salt marshes that are net carbon sinks in the Chesapeake Bay and now at risk due to climate change. His deep background in science combined with a resourceful determination to tell the story so that the public can understand — and care — make his career in climate journalism one to watch.
Cameron Oglesby is a multimedia storyteller who centers Black and Indigenous narratives in mainstream environmental and climate reporting. Recently graduated from Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, Oglesby already made significant headway as a journalist while still in college, publishing her work in such outlets as Grist, Southerly, and Environmental Health News. Oglesby submitted two very different Grist pieces for the judges’ consideration. One explored the generational rift over “intersectional environmentalism,” and the other reported on the use of Navajo lands to generate power for Los Angeles even as 15,000 Navajo households didn’t have electricity. One judge said: “Cameron’s work is excellent, important, clearly written, and covering under-covered topics.” Oglesby is an Uproot Project Environmental Justice Reporting Fellow and an Op-Ed Project/Yale Public Voices Fellow on the Climate Crisis.
Kate Selig has been building an impressive career in climate journalism throughout her student years at Stanford University, and is expected to graduate in spring 2024. She spent the summer of 2022 working for the Boston Globe and, when the summer’s first heatwave struck, Selig’s editor sent her to get the story from Chinatown. One finalist judge said: “Kate’s story on Chinatown is lights out! It has a great lede, and I love the energy each character brings into the piece as the story expands from home to business to street, and from the elderly to young.” For the Globe, Selig also reported on the longer-term threat of climate change, as well as a piece on what one expert called “the embarrassment” that Massachusetts doesn’t have a state climatologist. Selig covered California wildfires and drought during the pandemic when she spent a gap year reporting for Bay City News, Mission Local, and The Mercury News, and then returned to Stanford for her sophomore year as The Daily’s editor-in-chief. This spring, she was an intern on the San Francisco Chronicle’s climate team, and this summer she is on the move again to intern as a climate and environment reporter for The Washington Post.
Daniel Shailer’s work with the National Trust in England earned him a fellowship to Columbia University to study climate journalism, where he is focused on the human impacts of climate change and climate solutions. His reporting explores the overlapping fields of legislation, conservation and adaptation — always foregrounding the stories of those whose lives have been altered by climate change. With a crisp and lively writing style, Shailer animates seemingly dry issues, and he is adept at finding strong characters to build his stories around. In one article that he submitted for the judges’ consideration, Shailer uncovered how limited flood disclosure laws in New York State, heavily lobbied by the New York State Association of Realtors, ensure that thousands of families continue to buy flood-risk homes without being warned. Marshaling important economic data on the impact of flood risk, Shailer’s investigative report rekindled conversations between legislators and advocates to revisit legislation. For this and his other student work, the Overseas Press Club awarded Daniel the Walter & Betsy Cronkite Scholarship for 2023.