A journalism collaboration of 23 news and education partners covering challenges facing Utah’s Great Salt Lake won the top prize Thursday in Current’s Local that Works contest.
Attendees of the Local that Works grand finale, held virtually, chose Great Salt Lake Collaborative as the winner. The collaborative will receive a prize of $20,000, and the four other finalists will each receive $5,000.
“I’m so proud of our team and that we’ve been able to build consensus about an environmental topic in a red state,” Heather May, project manager of the Great Salt Lake Collaborative, told host Mariana Dale after the announcement of the winner.
Since launching in January, the collaborative has produced about 150 stories covering issues such as the Great Salt Lake’s dwindling water levels and solutions for abating the crisis. It has staged community events and engagement initiatives, including lake tours, policymaker forums and a trivia night.
Public and nonprofit media partners in the collaborative include Amplify Utah, The Salt Lake Tribune, Utah Public Radio in Logan, and KCPW, KRCL and KUER in Salt Lake City. The collaborative also includes commercial media partners.
When asked how organizations in other communities could replicate the project, May said, “I think every community is dealing with environmental change, and so I think you should pick your own wicked problem and find passionate partners. And I think the focus on solutions is what has brought hope to the community, which I think everyone is yearning for.”
The other finalists included CapRadio in Sacramento, Calif., for “After the Assault,” a participatory journalism project that focused on the experiences of survivors of sexual assault; Injustice Watch in Chicago for Check Your Judges, a judicial election guide; TPT in St. Paul, Minn., for “Minnehistories,” a series of short videos produced for TikTok; and Outlier Media in Detroit for “Vote with Confidence: A Guide from the Detroit Documenters,” a voting guide created in collaboration with Michigan Radio.
The finalists were chosen from a pool of 96 entries from public broadcasters, nonprofit newsrooms and other media organizations.
The annual contest is part of Current’s collaborative project to showcase exceptional content and engagement projects that other media organizations can replicate or scale. Local that Works is produced in partnership with Public Media Futures and funded by the Wyncote Foundation.
Watch the video of the grand finale: