Multiple Pulitzer Center-supported stories and projects have been named finalists for the Online News Association (ONA)’s 2022 Online Journalism Awards. This year, the ONA received 1,093 entries and selected 165 finalists representing excellence and innovation in digital journalism, according to the association’s website.
Winners will be announced at the 2022 Online News Association Conference September 21–24 in Los Angeles.
The Pulitzer Center-supported project Security for Sale is competing for the University of Florida Award in the category Investigative Data Journalism, Small/Medium Newsroom. Security for Sale investigated real estate conglomerates that have come to dominate the market in states like North Carolina, outbidding individual homebuyers. With the support of a Pulitzer Center data journalism grant, grantees Tyler Dukes, of The News & Observer, and Payton Guion, of the Charlotte Observer cataloged major corporate landlords—their properties, fees, and abuses—in the Charlotte metropolitan area.
The data shows a “money machine carefully engineered in the aftermath of the foreclosure crisis,” underpinned by a 2013-minted “rent-backed security.” One Charlotte-area real estate agent said: “The number one way we transfer wealth and accumulate wealth is tough real estate ownership. There’s equity that is going to corporations that could have been going to people.”
Wires and Fires, a multimedia project supported by the Pulitzer Center, was recognized in the Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award, Medium Newsroom, category. Previously honored by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), grantees Raquel Rutledge, John Diedrich, and Daphne Chen, all of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, revealed that fires suspected to be started by faulty electrical wiring scorch homes in Milwaukee’s poorest ZIP code at five times the rate of the rest of the city, and the residents most affected are low-income, Black renters. After publication, Milwaukee’s Common Council directed a move toward rental inspection reform, and the city launched a renter education program about fire safety.
A report in grantee Ian Urbina’s project, Migrants Seeking Amnesty Blocked in Libyan Waters, is a finalist in two categories: Digital Video Storytelling, Small/Medium Newsroom, and the Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award, Medium Newsroom. “The Secretive Prisons That Keep Migrants Out of Europe,” published by The New Yorker and the Outlaw Ocean Project, documents an European Union-led effort that uses the Libyan coast guard to stem African migration into Europe. Migrants are detained indefinitely in profit-making prisons run by militias. After interviewing captured migrants, Urbina and five other reporters were detained at a facility where they reported horrific violence, indignities, and deprivation of due process. In February, Long Island University named Urbina a winner of the 2021 George Polk Awards.
The Greenland Connection, from The Post and Courier, was named a finalist for the 3M Truth in Science Award, Small/Medium Newsroom, category. Grantees Tony Bartelme and Lauren Petracca bridged the distance between Greenland and Charleston, South Carolina, to explain how climate change affects the coastal landscape of both places. Personal stories and spectacular photos demonstrate how Greenland’s ice sheet melting is part of our interconnected climate future. The Greenland Connection won a Society of Environmental Journalists’ Award for Reporting on the Environment for Outstanding Explanatory Reporting.
“Road to Ruin”— by Grist, CoastAlaska, and Earthrise Media—was named a finalist in the Feature, Small Newsroom, category. The report, by grantees Clayton Aldern, Eric Stone, and Jacob Resneck, and guest contributor Edward Boyda, explains an increase in logging in the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest, Tongass National Forest, Alaska. Land swaps in southeast Alaska have transferred valuable old-growth forest on public land to state or private institutions, jeopardizing wildlife habitat, salmon fishing, carbon sequestration, and the ancestral home of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian peoples.
Finally, Mission Local, a bilingual, local independent online news site that covers the Mission District of San Francisco, was named a finalist in the General Excellence in Online Journalism, Micro Newsroom, category. The Pulitzer Center and Mission Local have collaborated on projects, including Report Card, which explores how the pandemic has exacerbated issues of inequity in public education, and How Do We Survive?, an examination of the economic effects of the pandemic on Latinx immigrants in San Francisco.