The Renner Award 

The Worst Nightmare by CBS News 60 Minutes
Steve Kroft, correspondent; Gary Scurka, producer; Michael Gavshon, producer; Kathy Wolff Scurka, associate producer; Claudia Weinstein, associate producer; Carolyn McEwen, associate producer; Paul Bellinger.


The Russian Connection by U.S. News & World Report.
Tim Zimmerman, associate editor; Alan Cooperman, Moscow bureau chief.

The stories provided the first real evidence that Russian organized crime, in conjunction with at least one senior official of the Yeltsin government, had moved into the potentially lucrative area of nuclear smuggling. The story appeared on 60 Minutes and in a cover story of U.S. News & World Report. The story was impressive not only on its own merits, but also because of the enormous hurdles it posed for producers and reporters. At times, lacking the support and assurances of a news organization, producers Gary Scurka and Kathy Wolff Scurka spent their own time and money pursuing the project. Their diligence ultimately paid off with the backing of CBS News and the national magazine. Truly an inspiring investigative effort, worthy of the Renner legacy for organized crime journalism.

IRE Medal Winners 

Fertility Fraud by the Orange County Register.
Susan Kelleher, Kim Christensen, Michelle Nocolosi, and staff.

One of the most compelling stories of the year, this series unraveled the truth about a unversity fertility program in which doctors were stealing eggs from dozens of patients, fertilizing them and implanting the embryoes in other women. No story in this category took more diligence in uncovering what must have seemed, at first, to be absolutely implausible. The stories also were the result of great beat reporting by a medical reporter, who took the lead and followed a seemingly impossible tip to its incredible conclusion.

Military Secrets by the Dayton Daily News
Russell Carollo, Jeff Nesmith, and Carol Hernandez.

This timely expose reveals a disturbing rate of sex crimes among members of the military and shows how the armed forces version of justice allows hundreds of accused and admitted sex offenders to escape prosecution or punishment. The series was reported, despite the efforts by the military to hide the facts. The reporters, however, stayed with the story, producing original, troubling stories about an issue more topical than ever before. This is the second year in a row that the newspaper has received IRE recognition for its outstanding and persistent reporting on the U.S. military.

Blind Justice: Who killed Jane Fray? by WJR-Radio, Detroit
Rod Hansen.

By far one of the judges’ favorites. Reporter Rod Hansen not only showed how police arrested, and prosecutors charged, the wrong man in the brutal murder of Jane Fray, he also found the man believed responsible for the crime. A once-in-a-lifetime story executed with tenacity and flair. It represented good, classic radio reporting seldom heard on today’s airwaves. This story stood far above nearly every story in the IRE contest this year. Excellent work worthy of the highest recognition.

Network/Syndicated Television 

No Place Like Home? by ABC News/PrimeTime Live
Diane Sawyer, correspondent; Mark Lukasiewicz, senior producer; Robbie Gordon and Susan Barnett, producers; Lorri Garcia-Cottrell and Michell Smawley, associate producers; and Sylvia Johnson, production assistant.

A compelling investigation into problems with in-home care. The story uncovered just how little parents know about the private homes in which they place their children for care. Undercover cameras captured poor supervision, verbal and physical abuse, caretakers watching over far too many children and, ultimately, state inspectors who failed to act on the problems. The judges applauded the story for its relevance and thoroughness, an effort that took four years to research and produce.

Newspapers — Circulation Greater Than 250,000

Medicaid Madness by The Times-Picayune
Chris Adams.

This series showed how politically connected businessmen made millions in profits from the Medicaid program. The mudges cited the work for its sheer thoroughness, the ability to uncover new information on a topic that has been covered constantly over the years. The authors took that coverage to a new level, showing how the system allowed people to profit, while the needy still suffered. A rich and different look at an old topic that demonstrated great enterprise and tenacity.

Television — Top 20 Market

Guardian’s Grasp by WXYZ-TV, Detroit
Shellee Smith, reporter; and Barry Cutler, producer.

This series exposed how a guardianship company exploited the elderly people it was supposed to protect. The investigation revealed, among other things, that the company sold a client’s home for $500 to the mother of one of its employees. It also found evidence of Medicaid fraud, overcharging on accounting fees, and the mixing of corporated funds with the money of the company’s clients. The reporter’s work ultimately put the company out of business and implicated a county commissioner and a city tax official who benefitted from the guardianship company. Dogged reporting on a topic of social importance to us all.

Newspapers — Circulation Between 100,000 and 250,000

Boss Hog: North Carolina’s Pork Revolution by The News & Observer
Pat Stith and Jody Warrick.

A classic and definitive piece of work on how massive high-tech hog farms are polluting the air and water in North Carolina. Reporters revealed how the powerful hog industry convinced the government to go easy on environmental controls for the sake of profit. Some of the most powerful writing of the year.

Television — Below Top 20 Market

Last Rights by WSMV-TV, Nashville
Demetria Kaladimos, reporter; and Gil Hollingsworth, photojournalist.

Reporter/anchor Demetria Kalodimos revealed that for the last two decades, the University of Tennessee has been using dead bodies in experiments on human decay, without the knowledge of family members who believed their loved ones’ bodies were being donated for medical research. Some of the bodies were homeless unknowns, or prisoners whose families were never contacted. The bodies were taken to an anthropology farm and allowed to decay in various environmental conditions for the sake of forensic research. The report also uncovered that nearly ten of the bodies were men who served in war. The Veteran’s Administation reclaimed their bodies and provided a proper burial. The Nashville medical examiner suspended the practice almost immediately following the report. Unbelievable reporting on a story that seemed too bizarre to be true. This one actually left the judges speechless.

Marks’ Travel by KCTV-TV, Kansas City
Stan Cramer, reporter; Lisa Wade, producer; and Brett Hacker, photographer.

A great down and dirty story on how a highly paid school superintendent took a lengthy medical leave only to be photographed by KCTV in Florida while lugging boxes, furniture and lumber for his new home. Supposedly, he had a chronic back problem. The story also documented his questionable district spending habits. The superintendent was fired. Good storytelling. Solid investigative reporting.

Newspapers — Circulation Below 100,000

Evidence Indicates Bosnia Massacre by The Christian Science Monitor
David Rohde

Reporting by David Rohde in Bosnia exposed one of the worst massacres in history. The reporter found mass graves and credible survivors of mass executions around the fallen U.N. safe area of Srebrenica. The stories were groundbreaking despite the dangers and obstacles to getting them. Outstanding investigative and foreign reporting in one package.

Radio

Blind Justice: Who killed Jane Fray? by WJR-Radio, Detroit
Rod Hansen.

By far one of the judges’ favorites. Reporter Rod Hansen not only showed how police arrested, and prosecutors charged, the wrong man in the brutal murder of Jane Fray, he also found the man believed responsible for the crime. A once-in-a-lifetime story executed with tenacity and flair. It represented good, classic radio reporting seldom heard on today’s airwaves. This story stood far above nearly every story in the IRE contest this year. Excellent work worthy of the highest recognition.

Books

No award given.

Magazine

Death Trip by Vibe magazine
Paige Bierma.

The reporter exposed the questionable deaths of teenagers in a wilderness therapy treatment program. The stories showed initiative and originality — coverage of an issue that had been ignored by the mainstream media. Great enterprise work by a reporter working with far less resources than most.