The Society of Environmental Journalists announced Thursday that ProPublica won two SEJ Awards for Reporting on the Environment. The contest is the world’s largest and most comprehensive environmental journalism competition, honoring the best articles, books, radio broadcasts and videos on environmental topics.
“Where Will Everyone Go?” a story by ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine, with support from the Pulitzer Center, won first place for outstanding explanatory reporting in the large newsroom category. ProPublica environmental reporter Abrahm Lustgarten, alongside Al Shaw, Meridith Kohut, Lucas Waldron and photographer Sergey Ponomarev, showed how climate refugees might move across international borders as climate change makes certain areas unlivable. In a series of stories that followed, Lustgarten examined the warming of the planet and how climate change is beginning to push a mass climate migration of Americans, shifting perhaps millions of people and changing the way the country looks and works. Using a first-of-its-kind mathematical model to forecast the effects of climate change on the movements of communities, the stories explored the future of a world shaped by climate-driven migration and shared the experiences of people for whom this displacement has already begun.
“Hawaii’s Beaches Are Disappearing,” a ProPublica Local Reporting Network project by Sophie Cocke of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Ash Ngu of ProPublica, won for outstanding feature in the large newsroom category. The story exposed the ways in which coastal homeowners have used various loopholes to circumvent Hawaii’s environmental laws at the expense of the state’s beaches. Some got permission from the state to build new seawalls or keep existing ones. Others got state approvals to use sandbags and heavy tarps, which can have the same damaging effects as seawalls. Using drone footage and shoreline maps, the story included interactive graphic maps that showed, for the first time, the collective impact of shoreline armoring. What might have been a dense story on policy became easy to understand for readers, who were able to visualize the scale of the misuse and to search which properties had received permits to maintain or build seawalls.
See the full list of SEJ Award winners.