Large newspapers (over 250,000)
“The District’s Lost Children,” The Washington Post, Sari Horwitz, Scott Higham, Sarah Cohen
Judges’ comments: Shining a light on the secretive child protection system, The Washington Post showed that 229 children died during a seven-year period after dangers to them came to the attention of government workers. At least 40 of those children died because workers failed to take key preventive action or because the children were placed in unsafe homes or institutions. The project, which has resulted in wide-ranging reforms, answers the highest call of investigative journalism.
“Cops and Confessions and The Roscetti Case,” Chicago Tribune, Ken Armstrong, Steve Mills, Maurice Possley
Judges’ comments: Through painstaking research, the Chicago Tribune exposed a system of policing that extracts hundreds of faulty confessions from murder suspects. Since 1991, at least 247 murder confessions in Chicago and Cook County have been thrown out by courts or have failed to secure convictions. The paper revealed that in some cases, police obtained confessions from men who were in jail at the time the crime occurred. Others who purportedly confessed were later cleared by DNA evidence. Stand-out journalism in a category noteworthy for its strong entries.
“A Taste of Slavery,” Knight Ridder Washington Bureau, Sumana Chatterjee, Sudarsan Raghavan
“Hale House Series,” New York Daily News, Heidi Evans, Dave Saltonstall
“Racing Safety,” The Orlando Sentinel, Mike Bianchi, Henry Pierson Curtis, George Diaz, Ed Hinton, Beth Kassab, Jim Leusner, Amy Rippel, Roger Roy, Debbie Salamone, Gwyenth Shaw, Robyn Suriano
Medium newspapers (100,000 through 250,000)
“The Foreign Game,” Dayton Daily News, Christine Vasconez, Doug Harris, Mike Wagner, Russell Carollo
Judges’ comments: The Dayton Daily News started with a simple idea for a sports investigation: Take a look at a handful of local high school athletes who came from foreign countries, several of them stars who had arrived under mysterious circumstances. Their reporting, however, required two years of investigation and trips to 11 countries and revealed how foreign athletes unfairly compete in this country. The series named names, revealing players, coaches, athletic directors and sports agents and resulted in a federal criminal investigation of possible visa fraud and reforms to high school athletic rules.
“Dying to Lose Weight,” The Fresno Bee, Tracy Correa
“Finding the Fat in Government Contracts,” Mobile Register, Eddie Curran
“Decades of Abuse/Abuse and Silence,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Ruth Teichroeb
“The New Segregation,” The News & Observer, Susan Ebbs, Tim Simmons
Small newspapers (under 100,000)
“A Price Too High,” Pocono Record, Matt Birkbeck
Judges’ comments: Acting on a hunch, Pocono Record reporter Matt Birkbeck discovered a real estate fraud that was preying on low-income and minority homebuyers. This well-crafted series exposed a scheme that that is now the subject of numerous investigations.
“Trapped at Thirtymile,” Yakima Herald-Republic, Tom Roeder, Jesse A. Hamilton, Stephanie Earls
Judges’ comments: In-depth reporting and compelling storytelling on a catastrophic fire that resulted in the Forest Service re-writing its own conclusions about the events that led to the deaths of four firefighters. The Yakima Herald-Republic distinguished itself on a highly competitive story that gave readers important insights within weeks of the fire.
“The West Virginia Workers Compensation Fund: Coal Company Debts, Fraud and Mismanagement,” The Charleston Gazette, Paul J. Nyden
“Hidden Hazard,” Pensacola News Journal, Scott Streater, Anton Caputo, Jenny LaCoste
“Miami Cops,” Miami Daily Business Review, Dan Christensen
Local Circulation Weeklies
“Fallout,” SF Weekly, Lisa Davis & John Mecklin
Judges’ comments: In this exhaustive reporting effort, Lisa Davis reveals that a Bay-front property about to be turned over by the Navy to the city of San Francisco may be far more contaminated with radioactive waste than current cleanup plans acknowledge. Davis spent 13 months on this highly technical project, using thousands of pages of government documents – including many declassified at her request – to show environmental problems the Navy had apparently forgotten.
“Slammed: A New Times Special Report on Kids in Correction,” Phoenix New Times, Amy Silverman
“Unholy Alliance,” New Times Los Angeles, Ron Russell
“The Osprey,” CBS News 60 Minutes, Mike Wallace, Paul Gallagher, Charles Fitzgerald, Robert Zimet
Judges’ comments: 60 Minutes detailed a pervasive plot to falsify records of a Marine aircraft that had already claimed the lives of many Marines. The team from 60 Minutes relentlessly pursued the real story of the Osprey, contacting every member of the Osprey unit in North Carolina. The reporting team assembled evidence, including a key audiotape that captured a lieutenant colonel instructing subordinates to lie about the Osprey’s real record. This expose came at a critical time when the government was about to put this aircraft in to full production. The officer who instructed his subordinates to lie was later relieved of his command, the Pentagon launched an investigation and the U.S. Armed Services Committee held hearings. And, of course, production of the Osprey itself was later halted. There is little doubt this investigative report helped contribute to the safety of Marines.
“Memories of a Massacre,” CBS News 60 Minutes II, Dan Rather, Tom Anderson, Gregory Vistica
“Columbine,” CBS News 60 Minutes II, Ed Bradley, David Gelber, Helen Malmgren, Michael Kadis, Terry Manning, Jeff Fager
“Choppers, Plots and Cold Hard Cash,” Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Harvey Cashore, John Goetz, Linden MacIntyre, Jennifer Fowler, Howard Goldenthal
“Smart Bomb Batteries,” CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, Jim Murphy, Vince Gonzales, Tom Flynn
Top 20 markets
“Lives at Risk: An Emergency Room Investigation,” WFAA-Dallas/Fort Worth, Valeri Williams, Meridith Schucker, Jesus Hernandez, WFAA Photography Staff, WFAA Graphics
Judges’ comments: Valeri Williams and WFAA-Dallas produced a riveting series of investigations and convincing evidence of a doctor’s involvement in the deaths of patients at a county-funded hospital in Ft. Worth. Williams was relentless in her coverage, battling a hospital more focused on punishing whistleblowers than addressing the dangers raised by these reports. This was an outstanding example of investigative reporting and commitment by a local television station.
“The Imam Investigation,” WJW-Cleveland, Bill Sheil, Tom Merriman, Greg Easterly
“Prevnar: A Vaccine Investigation,” WFAA-Dallas/Fort Worth, Valeri Williams, Meridith Schucker, Jesus Hernandez, Stephen Kanicka, Nann Goplerud
“The Hole Truth,” KTRK-Houston, Wayne Dolcefino, Steve Bivens, Robert McJannet
Below top 20 markets
“Visions of Vine Street Investigative Documentary,” WCPO-Cincinnati, Laure Quinlivan, Rod Griola
“Earl’s Special Interest,” WKMG-Orlando, Tony Pipitone, Darran Caudle, Brent Singleton
“The Secret Report,” WCPO-Cincinnati, Hagit Limor, Bob Morford
“Juries and Justice Series,” The Chicago Reporter, Alden K. Loury, Micah Holmquist, Vince Kong, Ellyn M. Ong
“Illinois First: Swing Districts Favored Over Minority Areas,” The Chicago Reporter, Beth Musgrave, Jennifer Whitson, Cyril Mychalejko, Pamela A. Lewis
“High School Choice,” CATALYST: Voices of Chicago School Reform, Elizabeth Duffrin
“Burning the Evidence,” American RadioWorks/Minnesota, Stephen Smith, Michael Montgomery, Bill Buzenberg, Deborah George, Adriatik Kelmendi
Judges’ comments: This American Radio Works investigation broke a major story on how Serbian forces, under the command of Slobodan Milosevic, covered up war crimes by incinerating the remains of hundreds of ethnic Albanians in an industrial furnace. Painstaking reporting included walking the shafts of the lead smelter to determine the final journey of hundreds slain, buried and later moved by the Serbian security service. This courageous, chilling report is a model for original investigative reporting on radio.
“Logan Security,” WBUR-FM, Boston, Frederic Thys”From Milan to Madrid to Montreal: The World Wide Web of Terror,” Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Kelly Ryan, Sandra Bartlett
“Under the Influence: Spokane, the Cowles Family and River Park Square,” Camas Magazine, Tim Connor, Larry Shook
“Debt to Society: The Real Price of Prisons,” MotherJones.com, Vince Beiser, Eric Bates, Mike Males
“Radio Today,” Salon.com, Eric Boehlert
“Tobacco Companies Linked to Criminal Organizations in Lucrative Cigarette Smuggling,” ICIJ, Maud S. Beelman, Bill Birnbauer, Duncan Campbell, William Marsden, Erik Schelzig, Leo Sisti
“Fateful Harvest,” HarperCollins, Duff Wilson
Judges’ comments: Seattle Times reporter Duff Wilson’s “Fateful Harvest” is set in the small farming town of Quincy, Wash., but its tale will shock communities across America: Chemical companies are slipping toxic waste into fertilizer. Tainted with heavy metals, dioxins and radioactive waste, the fertilizer is being spread on farms, yards and gardens -with potentially disastrous results for unsuspecting farmers and the public. Wilson brings readers along as he responds to a tip from the town’s mayor and takes on one of America’s most powerful industries. His book provides insights in the world of investigative reporting as he unrelentingly, and ethically, pursues the truth, creating a roadmap that will be followed by concerned citizens for years to come.
“Body of Secrets,” Doubleday, James Bamford
“The Lost Children of Wilder,” Pantheon Books, Nina Bernstein
Tom Renner Award
“The Price of Beauty,” WTVJ – Miami, Scott Zamost, Trina Robinson, Jeff Barnes, Daniel Varela, Cecila Bradley
“Body of Secrets,” Doubleday, James Bamford
Judges’ comments: The National Security Agency is so secretive that most reporters wouldn’t be able to produce more than a short story about its operations. But in “Body of Secrets,” James Bamford provides a compelling, 700-page sequel to his award-winning “The Puzzle Palace,” which won the IRE book award two decades ago. Little-known Public Law 86-36 virtually excludes the NSA from the Freedom of Information Act, but Bamford found creative ways to persuade officials to declassify and release thousands of pages of documents. He reveals the agency’s mistakes, such as concocting a plan, never implemented, to shoot down an empty airliner over Cuba in 1962 and then accuse Cuba of downing a planeload of students. There are many more revelations about the NSA’s role in the Cold War, Vietnam War and a growing worldwide eavesdropping network that may help nab terrorists but also may threaten civil liberties. With this work, Bamford upholds the ideals of FOIA – that citizens ought to be able know what their government really is doing. Bamford proves that even with America’s most secretive agency, there’s a place for freedom of information.
“In Harm’s Way: Inside VA Hospitals,” The Plain Dealer, Joan Mazzolini
“American Indian Rule: Sovereignty Abused,” The Detroit News, Melvin Claxton, Mark Puls
“Open Justice,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Barbara White Stack
“A Fatal Raid: Coverage of the Death of Carl Ray Wilson,” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Jim Brooks, Cathy Frye, Amy Upshaw
Student Work (All Media)
“A Flood of Problems,” MaryJo Sylwester, University of Missouri, for The Missourian (Columbia, Mo.)
Judges’ comments: A thorough and well-written report exposing problems with a local storm water permitting system, the consequences for residents and why readers should care. Sylwester found that only half of recently approved subdivisions had secured the necessary state permits. Her sophisticated reporting and smart use of data produced a noteworthy story.
“Crime on Campus,” University of Connecticut Journalism Dept., Marcel Dufresne, Christopher Collibee, Nora Decher, Luke Foster, Jason Gazsi, Jennifer Grogan, Christina Hall, Jesse Lalime, Matthew Monks, Rochelle Moore, Kristen Mullaney, Terrence Nguyen, Joy Pachla, James Rand, Maggie Samways, Laura Tarpill, Greg Watterworth
“Bar None,” Jennifer Dorroh, University of Maryland, for Capital News Service
“Wreck the Halls,” Elizabeth McFadyen-Ketchum, Middle Tennessee State University, for Sidelines
“Nursing Home Crisis,” Mike Dello Stritto, University of Florida, for WUFT-Gainesville