Nazmul Ahasan (’23) wins Sigma Award for data journalism

April 1, 2024

Headshot of Nazmul Ahasan

Nazmul Ahasan (’23)

Recent graduate Nazmul Ahasan (’23) has won a Sigma Award, which recognizes the best data-driven projects of the past year, for “Body Count: Extrajudicial Executions in Bangladesh,” published by Netra News.

The prize committee had high praise for Ahasan’s investigation:

Body Count is an exceptional data journalism effort where the numbers paint a gruesome story but it really is the combination of data crunching and field work that made this project amazingly impactful. We have to thank the unnamed journalists working and risking it in Bangladesh, a country where investigating the intelligence agencies and the law enforcement is extremely dangerous, for bringing this story to light. This effort is a sign of a future where cross border data journalism can protect reporters in unsafe environments while at the same time uncovering extremely important issues.

“This journey of over a year, through my data journalism classes at Berkeley and beyond, has been nothing short of transformative,” Ahasan said. “My professors generously offered their guidance, delving into the intricacies and helping polish the story to its current form.”

Ahasan credits his colleagues, some of whom must remain unnamed, who worked tirelessly on the thorough research that underpins a comprehensive database, chronicling the stories of more than 2,500 individuals killed over a decade. The killings were initially documented by dogged human rights defenders in Bangladesh and Australia.

“This truly epitomizes the spirit of teamwork, which we didn’t foresee at first but collectively brought it to fruition,” Ahasan said.

Ahasan credited his instructors Peter Aldhous, Soo Oh and Yoli Martinez (’15) in the story and the award submission. “Peter helped me with data cleaning and visualization for the maps I used in the story,” Ahasan said. “Soo and Yoli helped with the development of the website that we ended up using, including guidance on accessibility, best practices and feedback on web design.”

Originally from Bangladesh, Ahasan is a reporter with Bloomberg News. He earlier worked for the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University and the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley. He began his reporting career with The Daily Star in Dhaka. His reportage and commentaries have appeared in major publications such as The Washington Post, The Economist, Foreign Policy, The Telegraph, The San Francisco Chronicle, Columbia Journalism Review and Haaretz. He serves on the volunteer Alumni Advisory Committee at Berkeley Journalism.

Some 591 data journalism projects, from 322 organizations in 78 countries submitted entries. Fifty-two entries from 22 countries made the Sigma 2024 shortlist.

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