Al Jazeera Digital’s Slow Journalism unit has been awarded Feature of the Year (General) in the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW) awards.
Al Jazeera won in the feature category for general science reporting, beating co-finalist, The Economist, to win the prize.
Dubbed the “Oscars of science journalism”, the ABSW presented the awards across 16 categories during a ceremony at the Royal College of Physicians, in London, on July 14.
Features writer Zoe Flood wrote the winning story, Inside the Botswana lab that discovered Omicron.
The reporting brings to light the personal stories of the scientists and of the lab’s unique positioning, following years of work on HIV, to be able to quickly and effectively sequence the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.
The feature looks at how the hastily enforced Omicron travel ban imposed by some European countries on a grouping of African nations further hampered the global effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“Zoe’s article is an example of in-depth journalism at its best – weaving together current affairs, historical context and the stories of the people at the heart of these events while also asking hard questions about the human toll of global inequality and the decisions made by those in positions of power,” said Carla Bower, Managing Editor of Al Jazeera English Online.
ABSW judges praised the story as an “accessible feature that shines a light on the unknown scientists who identified Omicron at a time when countries were being stigmatised for detecting new COVID variants.”
Prizes were conferred across 16 categories, with competition from major UK publications, including The Economist, the Financial Times, BBC and the Guardian.