2018 Feature, Medium Newsroom finalist

Marshall Islands: The Poison and the Tomb


About the Project

This feature package, pitched to Science Editor Andrew Freedman at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, set out to tell the stories of the people being affected by climate change right now. It also explored the issues related to forced migration and the long shadow of American nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands.

The editorial process involved working with three talented freelancers, features editors, video producers, and our social team to produce a three-part, longform, multimedia story. One of the authors, Kim Wall, died tragically during the production process. That transformed this story into something with even greater weight, since it was to be her last published work. Photographer Coleen Jose and Videographer Jan Hendrik Hinzel worked tirelessly with Mashable staff to continue the project after Wall’s passing.

Wall, Jose, and Hinzel followed Marshallese families as they visited eroding coastlines, and contaminated atolls, wrestled with whether to stay or leave their homeland forever, and eventually tried to remake their lives in landlocked Arkansas. The stories examined the human consequences of past American policy decisions and how their effects reverberate as climate change takes its toll.

Homes are repeatedly destroyed by more frequent and stronger storms. Children play in graveyards that are slowly eroding, disinterring their ancestors. Pushed away from their ancestral homeland, many Marshallese have settled in Arkansas, working in poultry factories.

Mashable passionately chronicles stories on the cutting edge of our world, and nothing is more relevant to the global conversation than climate change. This feature package used extensive multimedia and expanded across platforms like Facebook Video and Instagram Stories. In addition to creating content for Mashable’s own Instagram account, we also partnered with several environmental, media, and photography-focused accounts – such as Years of Living, Everyday Climate Change, and International Women’s Media Foundation –
to provide a glimpse of our collective future as the planet warms and shine a light on the way people are living now. The project was recommended by other well-established outlets, including CNN and The New York Times.