A house burns while Camp Fire is unleashed through Paradise, California, on Thursday, November 8, 2018. (Photo: Noah Berger / Associated Press)
An investigation by the Republic of Arizona and the USA Today Network that identified hundreds of communities across the west at risk of major casualties from forest fires was recognized with national honors.
It is the second national recognition for “Ahead of the Fire”, which in October was awarded as “Best Innovation Project” by the Editor & Publisher magazine.
Following the 2018 fire in Paradise, California, which killed 85 people, journalists from The Republic began examining whether other Western communities face similar risks. The analysis used a giant data set from an analysis of the US Forest Service. UU. Of the fire potential for each 18-acre pocket of land in the United States. Reporters determined the danger of forest fires in each populated place in 11 western states.
Then, the team combined the US census. UU. And other data to measure risk factors such as evacuation routes, age and disability status of people in those communities and participation in the emergency alert cellular system.
The analysis found that more than 500 small communities in 11 states had a greater potential for forest fires than Paradise.
“We were surprised by the destruction in Paradise, and we decided to help people understand the risks to other communities,” said the executive editor of the Republic of Arizona, Greg Burton. “And, in the spirit of Philip Meyer, this talented team of reporters combined gumshoe reports with scientific analysis.”
Together with journalists from other newsrooms of the USA Today Network, reporters and cameramen visited some of the communities at risk to see the threat up close.
“Sophisticated graphics and compelling photos helped tell an exciting story that can be replicated in many newsrooms thinking of ways to bring the threat of climate change to their audiences,” the contest judges wrote.
The Meyer Prize was created to promote journalism that uses empirical methods to explore a subject and illuminate a story. It is administered by the National Institute of Computer Assisted Reports, a joint program of Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Missouri School of Journalism.
First place went to Reuters for a project that identified sealed judicial evidence showing the role of pharmaceutical companies in the growth of the opioid epidemic. The Reuters team developed methods that used machine learning and natural language processing to identify and classify sealed judicial records. Like the forest fire project, these methodologies can serve as a template for news organizations seeking to explore similar problems in their communities.
Third place went to Al Jazeera and the Pulitzer Center on crisis reports for their analysis of the refugee crisis in South Sudan.
The awards will be delivered on March 7 in New Orleans as part of the conference of the National Institute of Computer Assisted Reports.
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