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Ruins of Intrenchment Creek Park, adjacent to the "Cop City" site. (Courtesy of Reid Davis)

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The Xylom Wins an Atlanta Press Club Award for Excellence

In its first year participating in the Awards, The Xylom is a finalist in two categories, winning one.

The Atlanta Press Club announced Tuesday evening that Editor-in-Chief Alex Ip is its 2024 Rising Star.

The Atlanta Press Club Awards of Excellence recognizes Atlanta-area journalists for the highest caliber work within a calendar year. Entries were judged by volunteers from the Los Angeles Press Club on the quality of content, demonstrated reportorial skill, and the impact of their work.

Editor-in-Chief Alex Ip was recognized for his outstanding talent in a body of work from any medium, from a journalist under 30 years of age. Having founded The Xylom as a Georgia Tech undergraduate Environmental Engineering student, the newsroom now enters its sixth year of operations.

Although Ip was unable to attend the Awards Ceremony due to a schedule conflict, below is his prepared acceptance statement.

"Thank you to the Atlanta Press Club for the honor. I am grateful to the Georgia Tech educators who prepared me for an environmental reporting career, particularly my Urban Sociology professor Dr. Allen Hyde, and those in the Serve-Learn-Sustain program. The behind-the-scenes work of colleagues Sarah Belle Lin, Amber X. Chen, and Mark Lannaman is also instrumental to the integrity and impact of my work.

"The institutional obstacles and censorship I have faced while reporting about "Cop City" have been well documented. That is nothing remotely close in magnitude to the killing of at least 97 journalists and media workers in the Gaza strip; or the physical assault, unequal treatment, and threats of arrest that student journalists are facing right now as they report on Pro-Palestinian campus protests, especially those at Columbia University and UCLA."

"America needs student journalists. Any functioning and healthy democracy needs journalists of all stripes. Bad actors may try (and fail) to discredit our work as amateurish and passionate, but we will always stand by our reporting and our commitment to the truth. I salute and stand in solidarity with those doing public service journalism, and I urge readers not to look away from the atrocities committed in Gaza and stateside."

This is the second journalism award Ip has won this year that recognizes his body of work. Along with Newsroom Fellow Shreya Agrawal, he was a Silver Winner in News & Journalism, Sustainability, Environment, & Climate in The 3rd Annual Anthem Awards. The Rising Star Award also comes a day after Ip was selected to the Institute for Nonprofit News Emerging Leaders Council, which identifies, connects, coaches, and retains the diverse leaders who will innovate and strengthen nonprofit news over the next decade.

This is what judges said about Ip's work: "Alex shows consistency and superior knowledge of his craft. He has mastered the art of entrepreneurial journalism and can also work in teams. Well done!"

Ip is set to graduate from the MIT Graduate Program in Science Writing in September, after completing an internship at seven-time Pulitzer-winning The Christian Science Monitor.

Contributor Alexandra Edwards was also named a finalist in the Photo Essay category for her reported essay, "A Walk through Weelaunee Forest". A lifelong resident of Atlanta, Edwards now teaches digital interactive storytelling, in addition to antiracist and anarchist pedagogy, at Texas Christian University.

"Thank you to the Atlanta Press Club for this nomination," Edwards said in a prepared statement." I am honored to have my work recognized. Thank you as well to Alex Ip and the staff of The Xylom. I am heartened to know that, despite the fact that bulldozers have cleared much of the Weelaunee Forest I photographed, my essay stands as a testament to the worlds that once were and the worlds that will be."

"Last week should have been Tortuguita’s 28th birthday, were it not for the six Georgia State Patrol officers who shot them to death on January 18, 2023. As I write this, Tort’s legacy is being honored at Gaza Solidarity Encampments across the country—as far away from Atlanta as Cal Poly Humboldt, where protestors are explicitly making the connection between Cop City and the genocide in Palestine via the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange."

"These brave and righteous protestors know that the fight to Stop Cop City is a global fight to end ecocide, to free Palestine, to abolish the death dealers who rob us of our human and more-than-human kin. My work would not exist without them, without Tortuguita, without the Muskogee who originally stewarded the land we now call Fulton and Dekalb counties."

"No Cop City anywhere, defend the forest everywhere."

The Xylom is a Gen-Z-run nonprofit that grows science with words, and the only AAPI-serving science newsroom in the United States. The Xylom's coverage focuses on the American South and the Global South, which encompasses original personal essays, longform science features, resources for early-career science professionals, and a twice-monthly newsletter.


May 1st UPDATE: This press release has been updated with judges' comments.


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