From the moment Massachusetts shut down its economy in March, the Boston Globe has
chronicled the devastating impact of the pandemic on small businesses, workers, and jobs.
Our coverage culminated in a 4,800-word tour de force, entitled “One Block, One World,”
written by reporters Janelle Nanos and Shirley Leung. Their goal was ambitious and
original: to document the financial destruction visible on one city block downtown, and
then detail the unseen ripple effects across the region, and the world.
The duo’s reporting started on an unassuming block of Water Street in Boston’s Financial
District, home to a mix of restaurants, retail shops, and offices. Nanos and Leung, along with
Globe photographer Craig Walker, spent weeks traversing the historic neighborhood to
capture the full extent of what happens when thousands of office workers stay home and
don’t spend money downtown.
Then, crucially, they followed the story outside Boston, tracing the economic effects as far
as they could. They visited the refrigerated stalls of the New England Produce Center to talk
to wholesalers and delivery drivers. They spoke with an upstate New York paper company
that shuttered a mill after orders from a Boston printing shop dried up. They detailed the
effects on a clothing supplier in Maine, a tomato farmer in Florida, and local workers’
family members in Honduras and Mexico City.
Their reporting captured the sheer breadth of fallout from that one block — from the
upheaval in the price of tomatoes to how a farm worker whose battle with COVID-19 will
prevent her from returning to the fields. And it juxtaposed that with the experiences of
downtown office workers and landlords who don’t feel these effects on a daily basis.
The story was both a local and global one, so we crafted a digital presentation to match it. By using animation and mapping technology, we were able to bring readers down to the street where our initial reporting occurred. But through striking photography and videography, we also showed the far reaches of the economic impact, and helped bring to life the people affected.