Two Pulitzer Center-supported publications have received 2022 Online Journalism Awards. Winners were announced at the Online News Association’s (ONA) annual conference from September 21-24 in Los Angeles. This year, judges selected 55 prize winners from among 1,093 entries.
Mission Local, an online news platform out of San Francisco’s historic Mission District, took home a 2022 General Excellence in Online Journalism, Micro Newsroom award. Since 2008, the Bay Area outlet has put an emphasis on “high impact, enterprise reporting on everything from police reform to corruption at City Hall, housing, and the gig economy.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mission Local innovated a two-way texting service with their Latinx readers, connecting them with the city’s patchwork of public programming. In turn, residents told them of their pandemic malaise. Their journalists saw, for example, “how isolated students become during COVID.” They “not only wanted to document that isolation, [but] to relieve it in some way.”
In partnership with the Pulitzer Center, grantees Lydia Chávez and Sindya Bhanoo paired first person testimonies with illustrations of the home lives of San Francisco youth, dreaming ways out through colorful imaginations of virtual school and life after quarantine, as part of their project Report Card. How Do We Survive?, also reported by grantees Chávez and Bhanoo, examined how COVID-19 disproportionately affects Latinx folks in San Francisco.
The Pulitzer Center-supported story “Road to Ruin” won the Feature award in the small newsroom category. The story was written by grantees Clayton Aldern, Eric Stone, and Jacob Resneck, with guest contributor Edward Boyda, and published in a collaboration by Grist, CoastAlaska, and Earthrise Media. Through a nearly year-long investigation, the report analyzes how logging continues in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest despite federal laws meant to protect national forest lands.
Alaska’s old-growth forests are more than tourist destinations: Tongass, the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest, also provides priceless carbon sequestration, food supply, and wildlife habitat, and it is the historical home of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian peoples. Legal protections, like the Roadless Rule, were regarded as achievements for forest conservation; Road to Ruin reveals that today, authorized land swaps circumvent those efforts. Congress can bypass protections by exchanging publicly owned old-growth forested land for privately owned clear-cut land, which frees the forest for logging. From 2015 to 2020, 22,000 acres of forest in the lower half of the Southeast Alaska panhandle were lost to logging.
“The folks [Eric] Stone talked to aren’t anti-logging; they just want responsible logging. As one told Stone, ‘You think about what a victory everybody was celebrating about the Roadless Rule coming back. But it really means nothing if there’s a back door.’
"Exposing that ‘back door’ took a village of nearly a dozen staffers from Grist, Boyda from Earthrise, and the journalists from CoastAlaska, to package a 4,000-word story with data analysis, maps, interactives, drone and still photography,” said the ONA awards announcement. “It took, in other words, a true collaboration.”
A story affiliated with Ian Urbina’s Pulitzer Center-supported project, Migrants Seeking Amnesty Blocked in Libyan Waters, won the ONA’s 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 EU-led effort that uses the Libyan coast guard to stem African migration into Europe. Migrants are detained indefinitely in profit-making prisons run by the 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.
Congratulations to all of the finalists and award winners!