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Pulitzer Center Update October 18, 2021

Several Grantees Win Online Journalism Awards


Pulitzer Center grantees were celebrated and honored at the Online Journalism Awards for their reporting on Amazon, China’s prison state, and oil wells in Texas.

The Online Journalism Awards, held this year on October 15, recognize digital innovation in the journalism space. The awards were founded by the Online News Association, and funded by the Lenfest Institute.

Grantee Tom Laffay’s film, Siona: Amazon Defenders Under Threat, won an Online Journalism Award in the category Digital Video Storytelling: Medium Form. His film follows the story of a young Indigenous leader in the Colombian Amazon working to deactivate land mines that are on the Siona’s ancestral land. Judges called the film “a beautiful, cinematic experience showing the real-life consequences of a decades-long war and the native people still struggling to clear their ancestral homeland of deadly land mines.”

Grantee Ben Mauk’s interactive piece for “Inside Xinjiang’s Prison State” for The New Yorker won an Online Journalism Award in the categories Excellence in Immersive Storytelling and Excellence and Innovation in Visual Digital Storytelling, Medium Newsroom. This was part of the larger Pulitzer Center-supported project Survival in Xinjiang, which documents through virtual storytelling China’s persecution against religious and ethnic minorities. “This piece represents this category. Truly innovative approach to not only immersive but also ‘traditional’ storytelling. Incorporating the 360 illustrations via parallax is brilliant. And an incredible story. While we have heard about this story before, we have never seen it like this,” judges said.

Grantees Naveena Sadasivam, Christopher Collins, and Clayton Aldern won an Online Journalism Award for their article “Waves of Abandonment” for Grist in the category The University of Florida Award for Investigative Data Journalism, Small/Medium Newsroom. This story was a part of a larger Pulitzer Center-supported project Looming Liabilities: Abandoned Wells in the Permian, a multimedia investigation into what happens when oil companies don’t clean up abandoned wells, often polluting the communities they are in.

Judges said, “The images and panoramic views with the drone are compelling. Excellent use of data and projections.”

To see the rest of the 2021 Online Journalism Award winners, click here.