18 The Whitman Bassow Award 2023

Best reporting in any medium on international environmental issues

AWARD NAME: 18 The Whitman Bassow Award 2023
RECIPIENT: Reuters Staff
HONORED WORK: “The Bat Lands”

This is an astonishing series that, fresh from the pandemic, explores the potential threats to human health lurking silently in bat populations around the world. In a tour-de-force of graphics presentations, narrative writing, data analysis and on-the-ground reporting on six continents, the reporters were able to draw a connection between many of the environmental problems the world faces and the risk of life-threatening disease. Their reporting shows how things like mining, deforestation, over-farming and urban sprawl are unleashing bats from the remote quarters they have historically inhabited and putting them into perilous new contact with humans, or with animal species directly connected to humans. The journalists tested their hypothesis on previous disease outbreaks and mapped out, with 8 billion data points from around the world, locations most at risk of similar virus “spillovers.” With the use of 3D maps inputted with a variety of ecological factors, the journalists predicted where new outbreaks are likely to occur – in newly vulnerable areas that are multiplying every day – and demonstrated how these outbreaks can spread rapidly across continents. The result is eye-opening, convincing and terrifying – truly an environmental story of our time.

Link to the winning work:
The Bat Lands

Citation for Excellence:
The Washington Post
“The Human Limit”