The reporters were Eric Lipton, Coral Davenport, Danielle Ivory, Barry Meier and Hiroko Tabuchi. Two finalists were named. The project by the Post and Courier, based in Charleston, South Carolina, by Tony Bartelme, documented widespread destruction caused by toxic algae blooms.
An investigation by digital news outlet Quartz, led by journalist Akshat Rathi, offered "a solutions-oriented approach" to carbon emissions. The award was founded by family, friends and colleagues of Oakes. He was an environmental journalist and an editorial writer at The Times.