2018 Small Newspaper - Gold

In his nearly 15,000-word narrative series on Nora the polar bear, Kale Williams described the harsh survival odds the cub faced when it was born in captivity at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium (most hand-raised polar bear cubs die within 30 days), the challenges veterinarians and curators faced in keeping her alive, how they treated her metabolic bone disease and how she thrived when transferred to the Oregon Zoo in Portland and, eventually, to Utah’s Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City where she joined a companion named Hope. But beyond the story of a young, charismatic animal, Williams grappled with larger questions about the survival of polar bears as a species in a time of climate change (with reporting among native peoples in Alaska) and the role of zoos, sometimes controversial, in the care and preservation of endangered animals. Kathy Sawyer, a freelance science writer formerly with The Washington Post, called Williams’ series “a real gem, full of cinematic detail.” She said it weaves the science in deftly with the drama…a grand example of creative, narrative science writing.” Throughout his reporting, Williams said, “I received tremendous support from people who sometimes had more faith in me than I had in myself, and I owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude.”