2021 Shortlist

Vox Covid-19 Data Coverage

Country/area: United States

Organisation: Vox

Organisation size: Small

To Whom It May Concern—

Wissam Rhayem, is a traveling emergency physician who splits his time between six hospitals in the southwest. Normally, it can take hours to transfer a patient from the small hospitals where he works in the western US to larger facilities with more resources. Now, even those are filling up with coronavirus patients.

Rhayem recently treated a 21-year-old who was on a cross-country family road trip when he got sick with COVID-19. “This kid …” he trails off. “His heart stopped. We had gotten it pumping again, but he was paralyzed and intubated. I don’t think his Dad thought it was a real thing. I had to tell him that your son is probably not going to make it.”

As a journalist covering Covid-19, reporting on how the news impacts real people has never felt more important. But much of pandemic reporting has involved parsing data and finding visual ways to clearly and concisely communicate critical information. That’s why I’m really proud of the Pulitzer-center supported collaboration that You You Zhou, a freelance data journalist, and I published this winter. The third piece in the series is You You Zhou’s collaboration with Julia Belluz, a Vox staff writer. 

As a freelancer, it’s never been harder to place work: Many outlets’ budgets have dried up, and quick-moving news cycles make working outside a newsroom even more challenging. That’s another reason I’m submitting these pieces now. Despite the odds, they show a close attention to detail, and a commitment to using data to help convey complex topics in a comprehensible manner.

Many thanks in advance for your consideration!

Lois Parshley


Description of portfolio:

The first of this series parses how mask use policies have impacted Covid-19 rates in various states. The second expands on that with original research conducted by online survey, finding where the general public was not adequately using masks. The third visually represents different states’ approach to Covid-19 vaccinations. Together, they show a commitment to creatively using data to help make the pandemic more understable.

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