Mongabay founder and CEO Rhett A. Butler has been awarded a 2020 SEAL Environmental Journalism Award in recognition of his coverage of environmental issues for the website.
His fellow winners – at outlets ranging from The Guardian to Grist and The Washington Post – were selected based on each journalist’s work, a data-driven analysis of the impact and reach of their articles, and the bringing of fresh perspectives and social relevance to environmental issues, the organizers said. Butler has been publishing to Mongabay.com since he founded it in 1999.
“I’m humbled to receive a 2020 SEAL Journalism Award,” Rhett said. “I accept this honor on behalf of the Mongabay team and our network of contributors, who work tirelessly to deliver news and inspiration from nature’s frontline.”
Rhett has grown the organization in the past 20+ years to report on environmental issues in 10 languages via five international bureaus – India, Peru, Brazil, Indonesia, and the U.S. – which publish the work of staff writers and a broad network of 700+ freelance reporters based in 50+ countries. The outlet’s growth continued in 2020, reaching new heights in terms of readership – 10 million monthly readers on average, and that growth also included the addition of a new bureau, producing news in Hindi language service, to serve a whole other segment of India’s large population – despite the challenges of COVID, as he noted:
“Despite the pandemic, rising violence against journalists, and other difficulties, Mongabay journalists have done incredible work over the past year, reporting on abuses in commodity supply chains from the Amazon to Indonesia, exploring solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges, and holding power to account,” said Rhett.
This is not his first award but one to add to his list of accolades, ranging from the Parker Gentry Award to a recent Pongo Award. Mongabay.com and its many writers regularly win awards as well, including the Latin America bureau’s shared winning of the El Rey/King of Spain Journalism Award (Latin America’s top award for journalism), a Prem Bhatia Award (the most prestigious award for environmental journalism in India) for reporter Sibi Arasu, and most recently a U.S. film festival accolade for the new feature length film, “Our Mother’s Land.”
“I’m extremely grateful to our team as well as the global community of journalists who put their lives on the line on a daily basis to inform and inspire us. Thank you to the SEAL Journalism Awards for this recognition,” said Rhett.
Drone image of flooded Amazon forest by Rhett A. Butler.