2021 Bertha Challenge Investigative Journalist
Abiose Adelaja Adams
Host Organization: The Cable
Yasna Carolina Mussa Valenzuela
Host Organization: Late Magazine
Yasna is a freelance Chilean reporter, based in Santiago de Chile. For a decade she has worked as an international correspondent for various written and radio media, reporting from Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Her work has been published in La Tercera (Chile), The New York Times, Vice (Mexico) and Mediapart (France). She is co-founder of Late Magazine, where she is currently working as Editor and mediambiente.cl, a site committed to climate change.
During her Bertha Challenge project, Yasna worked with Juan Donoso (activist Fellow), to investigate the extraction of lithium from the ‘lithium triangle’ covering Chile, Argentina and Bolivia for electric cars marketed in Europe. Yasna visited sites of lithium mining to explore how the mining is affecting local ecosystems and communities, including the Atacama salt plains, home to one of the largest lithium mines in South America.
Website: The Lithium Triangle
Article: Lithium’s Grays [February 2021]
Andrea Isabel Ixchiú Hernández
Location: United States of America
Host Organization: Democracy Now!
Michael Owen Snyder
Location: United States of America
Host Organization: Blue Earth Alliance
Mike is a photographer, filmmaker and environmental scientist who uses his knowledge of visual storytelling and conservation to create narratives that drive social change. He holds an MSc in Environmental Sustainability from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He has directed award-winning films in the Arctic, the Amazon, the Himalayas and East Africa. His work has been featured by National Geographic, The Guardian, Vox, the BBC and others.
For his Bertha Challenge project, Mike spent a month travelling around Chesapeake Bay, photographing and interviewing residents. The Bay is the U.S.’s largest estuary, and an important wetland habitat, facing rising sea levels that threaten the homes and infrastructure of local communities.
Mike used blue tape to physically mark where the coastline is expected to reach by 2100. His photos show the projected coastline cutting across play areas, roads and houses. He also took portraits of local residents standing in places of personal significance with a measurement stick showing how high the water is expected to rise in that location. The portraits are accompanied by interviews with people talking about the importance of the area and about the future of Chesapeake Bay.
Alongside these photos, Mike also produced aerial images showing how much land will be lost by the end of the century if nothing is done to address climate change, compared to how much land will be lost if immediate and radical action is taken.
Website: The Coming Coast (portfolio of photos)
Article: ‘This Ecologist Thinks Coastal Wetlands Can Outrun Rising Seas. Not Everyone’s Convinced.’ [June 2021]
Host Organization: R.AGE
Elroi is a multimedia investigative journalist, whose stories have ranged from Indigenous peoples and human trafficking, to refugees. His work has received numerous accolades, including being twice nominated for a Peabody Award, winning five SOPA Awards and seven Asian Media Awards. During his time at R.AGE, the team has won the Kajai Award twice, and was conferred the United Nations Malaysia Award in 2016.
Elroi worked with Puah Sze Ning (activist Fellow) to focus on Malaysia’s Indigenous Orang Asli communities who are moving out of government resettlement schemes and returning to their customary lands. These lands are often exploited by the state and commercial enterprises for profit, leaving little resources for Indigenous communities.
Elroi’s investigations focused particularly on the Orang Asli struggles against logging companies. He documented the detrimental impact logging has on the local environment – and by extension on the Orang Asli’s access to land, water and food, as well as on the health of community members. Alongside his stories, he worked with community journalists to set up a digital map where various Orang Asli villages shared photos, videos and geospatial evidence of logging activity, and to submit this as evidence of malpractice to the authorities.
Article: ‘The Village Journalists of Kampung Ong Jangking’ [January 2021]
Video: ‘Behind the Blockade’ [January 2021]
Article: ‘Logging has destroyed our land, say Orang Asli’ [December 2020]