Investigations that proved Russian jets bombed Syrian hospitals, documented dangerous solitary confinement of vulnerable immigrants, revealed conditions inside Amazon warehouses and uncovered sexual abuse of children are among the winners of the 2019 Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards.
“This year's entries were powerful examples of investigations that held institutions and people accountable,” said Jennifer LaFleur, an IRE board member and chair of the IRE Awards contest committee. “Many of the investigations also made use of innovative techniques, enabling them to do stories that could never be done before.”
Norberto Santana Jr., an IRE board member who also served as a contest judge, added: “At a time when trust in government is beyond strained, these entries really inspire in terms of these reporters' dedication to public service. Whether it's protecting vulnerable seniors, workers or kids, or preserving voting rights, or fighting corruption abroad or checking our own federal government's truthfulness on the fight against terrorism and the war in Afghanistan, reporters all across America and abroad are really stepping up to offer people real information they can use to stay informed and most importantly, get involved.
“That's the true power of investigative reporting,” Santana said. “It changes things. It allows people to get involved.”
This year’s winners were selected from more than 450 entries. The awards, given since 1979, recognize the most outstanding watchdog journalism of the year. The contest covers 17 categories across media platforms and a range of market sizes.
The IRE Awards will be presented at a luncheon on August 28 at the 2020 IRE Conference in National Harbor, Maryland.
Tom Renner Award (for covering organized crime or other criminal acts): “Plunder and Patronage in the Heart of Central Asia,” Radio Azattyk (RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz service), the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), and Kloop, a Kyrgyz outlet. Due to multiple threats received by reporters and editors, the names of individual contributors are not disclosed.
Link to OCCRP series; Link to RFE/RL series
FOI Award: “The Afghanistan Papers: The Secret History of the War,” The Washington Post, Craig Whitlock
Link to Washington Post series
Print/Online Division I (tie):
“While the judges were impressed with all of the entries, they were unable to name just one winner in the Print/Online Division I category. We felt that both pieces were important and strong,” contest judge Ron Nixon said. "Both investigations saved lives in different ways."
Print/Online Division II:
“Beaten, then Silenced,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, Lisa Gartner
Link to Philadelphia Inquirer first story
Print/Online Division III: “At Risk: Boys & Girls Clubs and Sexual Abuse,” Hearst Connecticut Media, Lisa Yanick Litwiller, Hannah Dellinger, Viktoria Sundqvist, Meghan Friedmann, Peter Yankowski, Humberto Rocha, Tatiana Flowers
Link to Hearst Connecticut Media first story
Print/Online Division IV: “It’s Time For You to Die,” The Post and Courier, Jennifer Berry Hawes, Stephen Hobbs, Glenn Smith, Andrew Whitaker, Seanna Adcox
Link to The Post and Courier first story
Broadcast/Video Division I: "Syria Health Care Under Attack," The New York Times, Evan Hill and Christiaan Triebert
Link to The New York Times story
Broadcast/Video Division II: “Unwarranted,” WBBM-TV, Chicago, Dave Savini, Michele Youngerman, Samah Assad, Jeff Harris, Tiffani Lupenski, Marda LeBeau, Mike Klingele, Alif Muhammad, Deandre Taylor, Scott Wilson, Derek Dalton
Link to WBBM-TV story
Broadcast/Video Division III: “Fooling the Feds,” Fox45 News, Baltimore, Jeff Keene, Chris Papst, Carolyn Sachse, Dwayne Myers, Jed Gamber
Link to Fox45 News story
Broadcast/Video Division IV: “Patient Pain: The Massive Money in Medical Debt,” East Idaho News, Nate Eaton, Nate Sunderland, Mike Price
Link to East Idaho News story
Radio/Audio - Large: “Amazon: Behind the Smiles,” Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, Will Evans, Katharine Mieszkowski, Taki Telonidis, Rachel de Leon, Kevin Sullivan, Najib Aminy, Andrew Donohue, Esther Kaplan, Matt Thompson, John Barth (PRX), Al Letson, Melissa Lewis, Hannah Young, Byard Duncan, David Rodriguez, Mwende Hinojosa, Jim Briggs, Fernando Arruda
Link to Reveal story
Radio/Audio - Small: “Prosecution Declined,” Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, Eleanor Klibanoff, Kate Howard, Laura Ellis
Link to the KYCIR story
Student - Large: “State of Emergency,” Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University, News21 staff
Link to News21 series
Student - Small: "Believe at your own risk," SUNY Stony Brook, Rachael Eyler
Link to SUNY Stony Brook series
Investigations Triggered by Breaking News: "Inside Texas' Botched Voter-Rolls Review," The Texas Tribune, Alexa Ura, Ryan Murphy, Matthew Watkins
Link to The Texas Tribune first story
IRE Award for Sports Investigations: “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel: Game Change,” HBO, Josh Fine, Bernie Goldberg, Nisreen Habbal, Tres Driscoll, Joe Perskie
Link to HBO story
Book: “Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Book” by Katherine Eban