AWARD YEAR: 2014
AWARD NAME: The Whitman Bassow Award
AWARD RECIPIENT: Nick Miroff
AWARD RECIPIENT AFFILIATION: The Washington Post
AWARD HONORED WORK: Pushing South
In five lengthy and deeply reported stories, Nick Miroff explored the latest rush for resources across South America and the complex and often devastating impacts that have accompanied the hunt for riches. From the quest for oil in Ecuador to gold mining camps in Peru to palm oil plantations in Colombia, Miroff landed us in one often-forgotten place after another, and did so using elegant and vivid prose. He avoided clichés and offered a contextual depth by framing ethnic rivalries against their political and environmental backgrounds, and showed how the pressures brought by industries have not only caused ecological harm but also exacerbated cultural conflicts. In a contemporary twist on the typical boom story, Miroff demonstrated how drops in commodity prices tend to increase dependence on foreign investment, spur still more development to increase commodity volume, and further environmental degradation.