2022 Video: Spot News/Feature Reporting - Silver

A subset of COVID-19 survivors suffers from an unexpected side effect known as parosmia, a condition that causes the sense of smell to go haywire. Coffee smells like sewage and chicken smells like rotting garbage. Yara Elmjouie and his colleagues set out to learn how COVID-19 is doing this to people, and what life is like when you smell and taste all the wrong things with no end in sight. “Through fascinating case studies, we learn not only how devastating COVID-19 symptoms have been for certain people, but also learn to appreciate the one sense we often take for granted—taste,” said judge Angela Saini, a British science journalist and author. “This proves that great storytelling doesn’t have to be slick as long as it is accessible.” Michael Werner, a science journalist and video producer, called the winning entry “a strange and surprising story, which hooked me from the jump. The creative storytelling kept me engaged throughout, and the depth of the reporting was worthy of merit.” Yara Elmjouie, host and senior producer at AJ+, said that in speaking to numerous experts, scientists, researchers, and dozens of those afflicted with parosmia, the team “tried to amplify the voices of patients who felt their condition was often misunderstood, while also uncovering the science of exactly how COVID was doing this to our noses—and, as we would learn, our brains.”  He added, “At a time when science and facts are sometimes questioned in some of the darker corners of our world, we at AJ+ feel privileged that we’ve been able to, in some small way, bolster the presence of science journalism in the overall media landscape.”