Wendell Steavenson

1843 Magazine, The Economist

For 1843 magazine, Wendell Steavenson has produced an extraordinary series of features from war-torn Ukraine and about the financial collapse of Lebanon. She has spent several months in Ukraine over the last year, often at great personal risk. Her stories offer visceral accounts of civilians whose lives have been upended by war and demonstrate Steavenson’s striking ability to convey her subjects’ choices and emotions. She was also awarded a grant from the Pulitzer Centre to fund her work in Lebanon. This produced two pieces: one that presents a tragicomic portrait of people forced to hold up banks to get their own money, the other about parents sending their own children to orphanages because they can no longer afford to look after them.

Reporting these stories has required the same resilience and courageousness that Steavenson has shown throughout her career. For example, after the liberation of Kherson last November, she spent several days reporting in the city under bombardment. She has continued to put herself in harm’s way since then to share the stories of those caught in the war, working with great determination to consistently file despite her difficult surroundings.

Steavenson’s reportage from Ukraine has demonstrated her range. For The Economist’s summer double issue, she spent months reconstructing the thrilling story of Ukraine’s sinking of the Moskva. By speaking with top military officials, including the head of the Ukrainian Navy, Steavenson was able to uncover details about the events leading to the ship’s destruction hitherto unknown to the public. The resulting piece offered brilliant and rare insight into the mechanics of large-scale military operations undertaken by the Ukrainian army.

Additionally, her piece on two parents in southern Ukraine having to uproot their lives in the midst of war and thus stripping their nonverbal autistic son of his strictly regimented life is a sensitive portrayal of resilience and endurance. The lives of those living with autism, mobility impairment or mental illness often go underreported, even outside of wartime; Steavenson’s piece thus brings much-needed attention to one family’s plight amidst the most destabilising circumstances.

Steavenson is that rare thing; a great reporter who can write (or perhaps, a great writer who can report). Her work is consistently popular amongst readers – in total, her articles have been read over a million times this year. She possesses a remarkable ability to find the right characters to bring a story to life, and has consistently raised important issues in the public eye.