Ambiental, the Brazilian media start-up company founded by former Knight Science Journalism Fellow Thiago Medaglia (’20), has established a reputation for producing captivating data visualizations, interactive infographics, and rigorous science journalism investigations. But in recent months, Medaglia and his team have been on an especially impressive run.
In July, Ambiental’s data-driven reported feature “Amazonia: The Water Rainforest,” which charts the impacts that predatory human activities are having on the Amazon’s aquatic ecosystems, won not one but two top honors in the World Association of News Publishers’ Latin America Digital Media Awards. The piece was named best data visualization in both the small newsroom and general categories. The dual recognitions are “extremely exciting,” says Medaglia, who notes that Ambiental spent months working with a researcher from Sao Paulo University to develop a new “Amazon Water Impact Index” for the project. The original reporting made national news in Brazil and was also republished in English by Mongabay.
Last month, Ambiental earned yet another major recognition. The company was one of 16 Brazilian media outlets selected for the Google News Initiative Startups Lab, a program that seeks to help new media companies innovate and develop more inclusive and sustainable business models . Medaglia sees it as an opportunity to develop a sustainable business plan that will allow Ambiental to generate more frequent content, grow its audience, and increase its impact. “In my opinion, science journalism startups like Ambiental Media need to incorporate the ‘spirit’ of tech startups: ‘Think’ product, solve problems, serve a community or group that will be willing to pay for what you have to offer,” says Medaglia. “All that, of course, as a way to sustain a high quality journalistic operation.”
To top it all off, an infographic that Ambiental developed with Brazilian startup Grande Circular and National Geographic, called “Igapó, the forest made of water,” recently won a 2022 Latin American Design Award. Says Medaglia, “We couldn’t be more thrilled!”
The debut book from Bethany Brookshire (‘20), “Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains,” is set to hit bookshelves on 6 December. Published by Harper Collins’ Ecco imprint, the book sprang from research Brookshire carried out during her Knight Science Journalism Fellowship. It is described as “an engrossing and revealing study of why we deem certain animals ‘pests’ and others not — from cats to rats, elephants to pigeons — and what this tells us about our own perceptions, beliefs, and actions, as well as our place in the natural world.”
“It’s not a compendium of animals we hate,” writes Brookshire. “Instead, it’s about us. When animals annoy us, when we call an animal a pest, what does it say about us?”
“Pests” is available for pre-order now. Find more details here.
Tasmiha Khan (’22) has been named a recipient of the Pulitzer Center’s 2022-23 Richard C. Longworth Media Fellowships. The program provides $10,000 annually to support international reporting by Chicago and Midwestern journalists. For her project, Khan will report on religious communities in the Midwest and South Asia, looking at how the expression of religious faith in immigrant communities is influenced by their families back home. Khan is the recipient of one of just two fellowships awarded this year; the other went to a team of journalists from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
In KSJ career moves…
After more than two years as The World’s global health reporter, covering the pandemic, health equity, and more, Elana Gordon (’19) is now joining The Washington Post as an audio producer. She’ll be part of the team working to grow the outlet’s daily podcast, “Post Reports.”
After an award-winning stint as a reporter at Nature, Amy Maxmen (‘21) is leaving to take a position as a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Her parting feature at Nature, like so many of the stories she’s reported over the years, tackles one of the biggest questions in infectious disease policy: Why does a global inequality in the distribution of life-saving drugs and vaccines persist? “The Radical Plan for Vaccine Equity” traces that imbalance to its colonial beginnings, explores how it has become entrenched with new policies and practices, and describes a new initiative aimed at leveling the playing field.
Here’s what other alumni are writing, a compendium from Federico Kukso (’16):
Melanie Kaplan (’22): “4,000 beagles just got a gift from the Justice Department,” CNN.
Julia Rosen (’22): “Trees Are Overrated,” The Atlantic.
Jared Whitlock (’22): “Nursing home chain’s tangled corporate structure and bankruptcy threats stymied litigation,” STAT; “An MIT professor’s rare disease quest ripples throughout biotech,” Endpoints (Subscription required).
Anil Ananthaswamy (‘20): “Self-Taught AI Shows Similarities to How the Brain Works,” Quanta.
Andrada Fiscutean (‘20): “Romania’s communist-era abortion ban harmed hundreds of thousands of children. Is history repeating itself?” GRID.
Teresa Carr (‘18): “Researchers Ask: Does Enforcing Civility Stifle Online Debate?” Undark.
Jane Qiu (‘18): “Debate deepens over Wuhan wet market’s role in kickstarting the pandemic,” National Geographic.
Federico Kukso (‘16): “What if your dog could live a hundred years?” Agencia SINC (in Spanish).
Betsy Mason (’16): “Spiders Seem to Have REM-like Sleep and May Even Dream,” Scientific American.
Rod McCullom (’16): “Has the BLM Movement Influenced Police Use of Lethal Force?” Undark.
Olga Dobrovidova (‘15): “Russian scientist facing treason charges dies in custody,” Science.
Dan Falk (‘12): “When Will the Next Supernova in Our Galaxy Occur?” Smithsonian Magazine.
Pam Belluck (’08): “Abortion Pill Providers Experiment with Ways to Broaden Access.” The New Work Times
Herton Escobar (‘07): “Falling Star: Brazil space research institute struggles for survival,” Science (with Sofia Moutinho).
Richard Friebe (‘07): “Satellite data shows algal blooms migrating down the river,”Der Tagesspiegel (in German).
Valeria Román (‘05): “The surprising relationship between diet and the appearance of multiple sclerosis,” Infobae (in Spanish).
Annalee Newitz (‘03): “What hackers get up to when left on an island in the Pacific,” New Scientist.
Clive Thompson (‘03): “When Coal First Arrived, Americans Said ‘No Thanks’,” Smithsonian Magazine.
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