May 15, 2020
Best of the States
Bearing witness as COVID-19 ravages rural Georgia counties
Telling the stories of people who have suffered devastating losses is difficult at the best of times, but with this story, focused on one predominantly black rural county in southwestern Georgia where the pandemic is hitting hardest among some of America’s most exposed, the all-formats team of Claire Galofaro, Brynn Anderson and Angie Wang also had to cope with the challenges of reporting in a pandemic.
The journalists knew they would have to take cautious risks to tell this important story, while also dealing with the emotional and ethical issues of potentially putting the people they spoke to in danger. They spent much of their time sorting out how to best protect their sources, while also getting a story worthy of the risk those sources were taking to tell it.
That story, intimately told and richly illustrated, connected with readers, some of whom said it made the pandemic finally feel real. Many said it inspired them to act, and others wrote to compliment the journalism.
For a significant, poignant package that reveals in personal terms the already deep inequities exploited by the pandemic, Galofaro, Anderson and Wang are recognized with this week’s Best of the States award.