It takes a village, says M’sian-born Pulitzer winner

Job well done: Yong with wife Neeley. — Photo taken from Yong’s Twitter account

PETALING JAYA: Reporting on the Covid-19 pandemic was the most fulfilling and difficult challenge of his professional life, says Malaysian-born science journalist Ed Yong, who won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize.

“I did my best to give our readers a stable platform from which to make sense of a crisis that defied sense. I’m sad these stories were ever necessary, but I hope they made a difference, ” he said in a tweet.The 40-year-old, who has been working for US magazine The Atlantic since 2015, won the Pulitzer for explanatory journalism, for his reporting on the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 2021 Pulitzer Prizes were awarded for work during the 2020 calendar year.

The awards highlighted coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic, racial unrest, and other major issues in the United States that year.

In reporting on the pandemic, the Washington-based Yong said he counted about 300 sources that took their time to share their expertise with him during a year when everyone had little time to spare.

He thanked the Pulitzer board and jurors, his sources and his colleagues at The Atlantic for his success.“It really takes a village, and in recognition of that I’ll be splitting the prize money between everyone who worked on my pieces last year – every editor, copy editor, fact-checker, artist, and more.

“Even when individuals win Pulitzers, their work depends on a community. I want to honour mine, ” said Yong, who has won countless other awards for his reporting.

He also thanked his wife, science communicator Liz Neeley, in another tweet.

“@lizneely kept me afloat through all of it. Her ferocious intellect, boundless empathy and ability to maintain optimism while facing cold reality, are all part of the DNA of my work. I love you, Liz. You’re my whole, my hope, my home, ” he posted.

The Atlantic said on a website page compiling Yong’s articles on the pandemic that he “anticipated the course of the coronavirus pandemic, clarified its dangers and illuminated the American government’s disastrous failure to curb it”.

It added that Yong correctly predicted an interconnected set of dangers – breakdowns in international communication, chronic underfunding of public health, shortages of supplies and scientific expertise at the federal level, and former US President Donald Trump’s inadequacies as a leader.

He studied at the University of Cambridge for his bachelor and masters degrees in natural sciences (zoology). Yong also completed post graduate study at the University College London.

At the age of 13, he migrated to the UK in 1994.

His approach to popular science writing has been well received by his readers and journalist fraternity.

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