The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine announced Thursday that ProPublica’s “Flood Thy Neighbor” series has won its 2019 Communication Award in the online category. The prestigious prize honors excellence in reporting and communicating scientific issues to the general public.
The multimedia project, in partnership with Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting and Vox, examined how the U.S. has long relied on levees as its primary method of flood control, despite the fact that they can increase flood risks for neighboring towns.
To illustrate this counterintuitive concept and make it accessible for as wide an audience as possible, the investigation came to include all the best resources and techniques that the online medium has to offer, from interactive maps and graphics to an explainer video on the flawed decision-making behind building levees. Most notably, the reporters teamed up with a fluid mechanics lab at the University of Minnesota to build their own miniature levee, made complete with a tiny community of hand-painted homes, to demonstrate how different levee scenarios can raise flood levels upstream.
The winners for “Flood Thy Neighbor” — ProPublica’s Lisa Song, Al Shaw and Katie Campbell; Reveal’s Patrick Michels; and Vox’s Ranjani Chakraborty — will be celebrated at an awards ceremony on Oct. 16. See a list of all the Communication Awards winners here.