Willis, the Award’s Ninth Recipient, will focus on solutions to climate change in the American Midwest


New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute has named Adam Willis, a city government reporter for the Baltimore Banner, the winner of its ninth Matthew Power Literary Reporting Award.

Willis will use the grant to pursue a story about solutions to climate change in the American Midwest.

The Carter Journalism Institute established the award in the fall of 2014 to commemorate the life and work of journalist Matthew Power (1974-2014). Given annually and funded by more than 650 separate donations, it provides $12,500 to an early-career journalist researching an important story that illuminates the human condition.

“We’re thrilled to have found a winner as deserving as Adam Willis,” said Journalism Professor Ted Conover, a friend of Power’s. “He told the judges that he learned about the award from the bio line of a story in the New York Times Magazine by Ben Mauk, our runner-up in 2018, and was encouraged to apply after discussing environmental reporting with another awardee, Jessica Camille Aguirre. So good work can propagate more good work. We’re proud to be able to carry on the memory of Matthew Power this way.” 

This year’s judges were Conover, Suketu Mehta, Jessica Benko, Christopher Cox, Meera Subramanian, and Roger Hodge.

As a reporter for the Baltimore Banner, a nonprofit newspaper, Willis has covered Baltimore’s recent infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal pandemic aid. He previously reported for the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead out of Bismarck, North Dakota, where he covered energy, the environment, and rural issues. He has also worked as a historical researcher in Washington, D.C. and has written stories for the Atlantic, the Boston Globe, Politico Magazine, and the Virginia Quarterly Review, among other publications. His 2018 reporting on the response of the Philippine Catholic Church to the country’s war on drugs was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Adam Willis. Photo credit: Kirk McCoy/The Baltimore Banner,

Adam Willis. Photo credit: Kirk McCoy/The Baltimore Banner.

Power was an established freelance writer who contributed to such publications as GQHarper’s MagazineMen’s JournalNational Geographic Adventure, and the New York Times. He also worked in broadcast journalism. Power was a three-time finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists in international reporting. His work was frequently featured in annual anthologies such as Best American Travel Writing and Best American Spiritual Writing. Power died on March 10, 2014, while accompanying the explorer Levison Wood, who was trying to become the first person to walk the entire length of the Nile River.           

For details on the Matthew Power Literary Reporting Award, visit the award page. Applications for next year's competition may be submitted starting in November.

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