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2017 Topical Reporting, Medium Newsroom winner

Standing Rock and Beyond

About the Project

On one side was a phalanx of officers hundreds strong, with rifles, Humvees and helicopters. On the other, a few dozen people, hunkered down inside a makeshift teepee.

This was the final stand at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, where oil pipeline protesters once numbered in the tens of thousands before winter snow and what proved a temporary reprieve sent most of them home.

But even as the camp population had dwindled, the battle over resources and the land – and who controls both – continued all across North America. That was the story we set out to tell.

In a multiplatform project by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting that rolled out over several months, we traveled from the tar sands of Canada to the shores of the Gulf, checking in with the communities most affected by the rush to pull oil and natural gas from the ground.

We talked, but we also listened.

In Canada, our reporter joined forces with Discourse Media, a small independent newsroom steeped in indigenous rights, to host a series of small discussions in the path of the planned Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

After President Donald Trump said he had not heard from anyone who opposed the Dakota Access pipeline, we learned that the White House comment line was shut down.

So we opened up our own phone lines, asking people to leave the president a voicemail. When the White House line reopened, we delivered more than 200 of the messages, the vast majority opposed.

Our web video series featured four very personal stories about the history, lives and environment at stake in these battles over the land.

We sought out other journalists with expertise in the topic, as well:

– We produced a radio hour in collaboration with Inside Energy that included the voices of Native American youth so rarely heard on the national airwaves.

– We contracted with a Native American reporter, who blogged for us as things shifted at Standing Rock – and ultimately got arrested for covering a protest.

– And a journalism professor who had covered the original protests wrote a piece for us that put the ultimate lie to claims about “energy independence,” showing that the ultimate market for oil from Standing Rock and beyond likely is overseas.

We appreciate your consideration of our effort to illuminate the many ways in which Standing Rock was only the beginning.