Large newspapers (over 250,000)
- “Crisis in the Catholic Church,” The Boston Globe, Walter V. Robinson, Matt Carroll, Sacha Pfeiffer, Michael Rezendes, Stephen Kurkjian, Michael Paulson, Kevin Cullen and Thomas Farragher
This is the astonishing story of decades of widespread, chronic sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests and how the church leadership covered up their crimes. By opening the door into this long-shrouded world, the Globe exposed a national scandal that continues to reverberate. A masterpiece of unrelenting investigative reporting, these stories (retold well in the Globe book “Betrayal”) brilliantly documented a powerful institution’s inability to police itself, with tragic consequences for its many young victims and ultimately for the church itself.
- “The Vertical Vision,” Los Angeles Times, Alan C. Miller and Kevin Sack
By delving into documents and memories going back nearly three decades, the Los Angeles Times uncovered the grim tale of how the Marine Corps remains committed to a fighter plane that is killing its own in record numbers. Alan Miller and Kevin Sack showed that the vertical-takeoff Harrier jet is the military’s most dangerous aircraft, responsible for the deaths of 45 Marine pilots, all in non-combat crashes. Because of mechanical problems and maintenance mistakes, the Harrier has a staggering loss record — 143 major accidents so far. The series provoked congressional scrutiny and won praise from former Harrier pilots.
- “Phantom Classes,” The Orange County Register, Scott M. Reid, Marla Jo Fisher and Natalya Shulyakovskaya
- “Profiteering and politics at Miami International Airport,” The Miami Herald, Ronnie Greene and Joe Mozingo
- “Tax Cheats,” The New York Times, David Cay Johnston
- “Death Benefits: How Employers Profit by Buying Life Insurance on Workers,” The Wall Street Journal, Ellen E. Schultz and Theo Francis
Medium newspapers (100,000 through 250,000)
- “Last Gasp,” The Fresno Bee, Mark Grossi; Barbara Anderson; Russell Clemings
A compelling and comprehensive look at an agriculture hub that has become home to some of the nation’s dirtiest air. The reporters documented lax government oversight, repeated violations of air standards, and the human and environmental costs associated with air pollution that has been allowed to continue unchecked for decades.
- “The Black Belt: Alabama’s Third World,” The Birmingham News, John Archibald, Jeff Hansen, Carla Crowder, Thomas Spencer and Marie Jones
- “Deadly Consequences, Ohio’s Broken Mental Retardation System,” Dayton Daily News, Steve Bennish; Tom Beyerlein
- “Time of Death,” The (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer, Joseph Neff
- “Operating Behind Closed Doors,” The Virginian-Pilot, Liz Szabo
Small newspapers (under 100,000)
- “Against Their Will,” Winston-Salem Journal, Kevin Begos; Danielle Deaver; John Railey and Scott Sexton
The Winston-Salem Journal‘s meticulous documentation and exhaustive reporting uncovered a dirty secret hidden in North Carolina archives for decades: the forced sterilization of more than 7,000 residents — many of them poor and black — over a 50-year period. The Journal brought the program and its unwitting victims to the public’s attention, and cast a harsh spotlight on the role played over the years by Winston-Salem’s power structure — including The Journal.
- “Subject to Inspection,” Belleville (Ill.) News-Democrat, Gary Dotson, George Pawlaczyk and Beth Hundsdorfer
- “The Long Haul/Broken Promises,” Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette, Eric Eyre and Scott Finn
- “The Dominic File,” Springfield News Leader, Laura Bauer
- “Bitter Harvest,” Tri-City Herald, Mike Lee
Local Circulation Weeklies
- “The Lush Life of a Rudy Appointee,” The Village Voice, Tom Robbins
Tom Robbins of The Village Voice kept after a long-denied FOIA request for the expense records of a top aide to former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, even after being told the records were lost. The impressive results, released three months after Giuliani left office, showed a virtual, nonstop spending spree, with Russell Harding billing taxpayers for everything from an open airline ticket bought just before he left office to thousand-dollar hotel bills in Hong Kong and Las Vegas. Harding — a college dropout and the son of Giuliani’s political mentor — was appointed by Giuliani to head a city agency responsible for multimillion-dollar bond deals. In this well-written and engaging series, Robbins reveals not just Harding’s junkets but also a disturbing aspect of the Giuliani administration that had been kept out of the public eye because of the former mayor’s zealous guarding of internal records. After publication, Harding promised to repay $52,000, his former top aide was fired, ongoing city and federal probes were launched and Harding was indicted for spending hundreds of thousands of agency dollars on personal travel, gifts and parties for friends.
- “Northern Arc: Road to Riches,” Atlanta Business Chronicle, Sarah Rubenstein and Walter Woods
- “Sweetheart Deal,” Dallas Observer, Thomas Korosec and Rose Farley
- “The Chief and the New West,” Northwest Explorer, Patrick Cavanaugh
- “Unsolved Rapes,” ABC News 20/20, David Sloan, Carla DeLandri, Brian Ross, Brenda Breslauer, Yoruba Richen and Tom Marcyes
A stunning investigation where ABC revealed a “dirty secret” in police departments: Thousands of rape evidence kits — evidence that could catch violent criminals — sit unprocessed in police storage rooms across the country. Brian Ross and his investigative team at 20/20 discovered police don’t have the money to process the kits. In an unusual and somewhat bold collaboration, 20/20 offered to pay half the expenses to process 50 rape kits at the Baltimore Police Department. 20/20’s investigative project led directly to catching and convicting two rapists and freeing another man who was imprisoned for a rape he did not commit. This report awakened the nation to a hidden problem and has led to new funding commitments from private and public sources.
- “Central Park Jogger,” ABC News PrimeTime, David Doss, Cynthia McFadden, Robert Lange and Eric Avram
- “Good Intentions, Bad Results,” CBS News 60 Minutes, Steve Kroft, Leslie Cockburn, Stephanie Palewski and Sianne Garlick
- “Eligibility for Sale,” ESPN, Tom Farrey, Jon Genstel; Tim Hays; Craig Lazarus; Bob Ley
- “In A Child’s Best Interest,” MSNBC, Karen Grau, Bill Hussung and Scott Hooker
Top 20 markets
- “Evidence of Errors,” KHOU-Houston, David Raziq, Anna Werner and Chris Henao
A remarkable investigative project that is shifting a long held belief that DNA evidence is irrefutable. Turning a tip into an exhaustive investigative project, KHOU found errors at the Houston Police Department Crime Lab. One expert characterized those errors as “repeated gross incompetence” that may be sending innocent people to prison. This investigation is now resonating nationally and may shift a paradigm as old as DNA testing itself. This investigation was extraordinary and demonstrates a television station’s commitment to doing serious work.
- “Fake Drugs, Real Lives” WFAA-Dallas, Brett Shipp; Mark Smith; Kraig Kirchem; David Duitch
- “Trafficked for the Military” WJW-Cleveland, Greg Easterly, Tom Merriman, Ron Mounts, Mark DeMarino, Dave Hollis and Tim Roskey
- “The Prisoner and The Politician” WNBC-New York, Jonathan Dienst
Below top 20 markets
- “Friends in High Places,” WTVF-Nashville, Phil Williams; Bryan Staples
This swarming investigation exposed how millions of dollars worth of state contracts were handed to friends of Tennessee’s governor. In a series of well-documented reports over many months, WTVF tied big money contracts to two long-time friends of the governor. This happened at a time when the state was in the midst of a budget crisis and raising taxes. Facing retaliation, WTVF’s Phil Williams didn’t flinch and produced some of the most compelling television investigations of the year. This important investigation does more than put an outgoing governor on notice; it sends a clear message to all elected officials.
- “The Pain Doctor,” WITI-Milwaukee, Bob Segall and Diane Carbonara
- “Charter School Investigation,” WKRC-Cincinnati, Jeff Hirsh and Jeff Barnhill
- “A Cozy Connection,” WOAI-San Antonio (formerly KMOL), Joe Ellis; Brian Collister; Stephen Kline
- “Series on 9-11 intelligence failures,” Newsweek, Michael Isikoff, Daniel Klaidman, Evan Thomas, Mark Hosenball
Dogged reporting by Newsweek forced the nation and a reluctant Congress to face the fact that intelligence failures, the long-troubling rift among investigative agencies and bureaucratic foul-ups seriously hurt any chance that law enforcement agencies could have prevented the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
- “War Crimes in Afghanistan,” Newsweek, Babak Dehghanpisheh, John Barry, Roy Gutman
- “Look Who’s Cashing In at Indian Casinos,” Time, Donald L. Barlett, James B. Steele
- “Made in the USA: Hundreds of Americans Have Followed the Path to Jihad,” U.S. News & World Report, David E. Kaplan
- “The New Math of Old Age,” U.S. News & World Report, Christopher H. Schmitt
- “Investigation into World Business Review,” WNYC-Radio, Bob Garfield and Sean Landis
- “Gunrunners,” Center for Investigative Reporting, Julie Reynolds, Matthew Brunwasser, William Kistner, Dave Gilson, Rick Young, Lowell Bergman, Omar Lavieri, Allyce Bess, Marlena Telvick, Monica Sagullo, James Sandler, Will Evans, Mabel Tampinco, Robin Stein, Kelly Davis and Jared Saylor
“Gunrunners”, the Web site companion series to a PBS Frontline/World episode is an incredibly well-reported and deeply-sourced expose of the secret activities of international gun smugglers that went beyond what was broadcast to the public. A team led by the Center for Investigative Reporting launched a detailed, nine-month project that was extremely effective in flushing out Jean Bernard Lasnaud, an arms dealer wanted by Interpol but found to be living openly in Florida because he was a CIA informant. Lasnaud, who the team found selling arms from his own Web site, was arrested in Europe two days after the series was published. The center’s Web site, muckraker.org, also featured a transcript of an FBI tape made of Lasnaud’s son, which reporters obtained during a narrow window before it was removed from the public record.
- “Enron’s Big Political Donors,” The Center for Public Integrity, John Dunbar, Robert Moore and MaryJo Sylwester
- “Cracking the Nest Egg,” CNET News.com, Sandeep Junnarkar
- “Sex Slaves: Europe’s Trade in Drugs, Guns and Women,” MSNBC.com� Preston Mendenhall, Andrew Locke, Mike Moran and Bob Arnot
- “Capitol Offenders: How Private Interests Govern Our States,” The Center for Public Integrity, Diane Renzulli, John Dunbar, Alex Knott, Robert Moore and Leah Rush
The scope of this investigation is breathtaking. The Center for Public Integrity gathered information on all 7,400 state legislators in America to focus on a crucial, overlooked issue: Many legislators seek committee assignments allowing them to enhance their private financial interests, often at the expense of their constituents. The book demonstrates that vested interests are influencing legislators’ decisions on education, health care, insurance, public safety and the environment.
Update (Sept. 9, 2005): After a thorough internal investigation, the Center for Public Integrity determined that sections of its book, “Capitol Offenders,” had been plagiarized. Because of those findings the Center has returned the IRE Certificate it won in the 2002 IRE Awards for “Capitol Offenders.” Here is the Center’s statement.
- “High and Mighty SUVs: The World’s Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They Got That Way,” Public Affairs, Keith Bradsher
- “Betrayal: Crisis in the Catholic Church,” Little Brown and Company, The Boston Globe
Tom Renner Award
- “Crime, Inc.,” Chicago Sun-Times, Frank Main, Carlos Sadovi and Steve Warmbir
Reporters from the Chicago Sun-Times took the old adage “Follow the Money” to new heights in their examination of the Mob and Windy City Street Gangs. Frank Main, Carlos Sadovi and Steve Warmbir followed the money from a $1 billion-a-year drug trade into beauty shops, apartments, record companies and even Hollywood movies. Full of intimate portraits of young gangbangers and an aging Mob, the investigation showed how savvy street gangs were beginning to wield political influence, reaching into neighborhoods to get out the vote. This series stood out because of its investigative depth and sharp writing. The writers spent a lot of time doing surveillance in dangerous conditions, but it yielded investigative gold.
- “Immigrant Express,” Daytona Beach News-Journal, Patrick Wright
- “Trafficked for the Military,” WJW-Cleveland, Greg Easterly; Tom Merriman; Ron Mounts; Mark DeMarino; Dave Hollis; Tim Roskey
- “The Campus Files: Reagan, Hoover and the UC Red Scare,” San Francisco Chronicle, Seth Rosenfeld
Reporter Seth Rosenfeld’s 17-year fight to obtain FBI records documenting the bureau’s illegal and covert activities at the University of California perfectly illustrates the importance of the Freedom of Information Act. His persistence through numerous court cases resulted in a story that revealed the federal government’s unconstitutional assault on “liberal” students, faculty and a university president. It forged new legal ground, expanding the nature of the information that must be released under the FOIA and the government’s responsibility for paying legal fees. Perhaps most significantly, Rosenfeld’s work is contributing to the nation’s post-Sept. 11 debate over balancing civil liberties and national security. A New York Times editorial put it this way: “These accounts of the FBI’s malfeasance are a powerful reminder of how easily intelligence organizations deployed to protect freedom can become its worst enemy.”
- “A Failure of Public Health,” The Detroit News, Kimberly Hayes Taylor
- “Blood Errors,” Newsday, Kathleen Kerr
- “Stories From FOIA Requests,” York Daily Record, Sharon Smith, Jim Lynch, Teresa Ann Boeckel, Sean Adkins, Rick Lee, Joe Hainthaler, Michele Canty and Maryann James
Student Work (All Media)
- “The Secret Court of 1920” The Harvard Crimson, Amit R. Paley
The author showed great perseverance and determination in assembling 80-year-old facts from an institution, Harvard University, which was ultimately forced to acknowledge a sorry episode in its otherwise stellar history. The newspaper showed that a 1920 university investigation into a student’s suicide ended with the university convening a secret court that labeled 14 men “guilty” of being or knowing homosexuals. Some were forced to leave the university and the city of Cambridge, Mass. As a result of the story, the current university president issued an apology for the actions of the university.
- “Foster Shuffle,” Capital News Service (University of Maryland), Michelle Krupa
- “State Salaries,” Capital News Service (University of Maryland), Hanah Cho
- “Killer Coasters,” Capital News Service (University of Maryland), Kathleen Johnston Jarboe
Special Citation to Nancy Phillips for the Rabbi Fred Neulander investigation, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Sometimes results don’t come until long after the work appears. Nancy Phillips began writing about the Neulander murder case in 1994 after the wife of a popular rabbi was found bludgeoned to death in their suburban Philadelphia home. For the next several years, she kept following the case. Eventually, one of Neulander’s associates made a confession to her that finally led authorities back to Neulander — more than five years after the crime. In November 2002, a jury convicted Neulander of arranging his wife’s death and sentenced him to life in prison. This is an outstanding example of a reporter of great courage who persevered long after most would have given up.
Special Citation for an International Entry
“How Elected Officials Divided Up 45 Million Euros Since 1992,” Le Figaro (Paris, France), Mark Hunter, Nour Richard-Guerroudj, Salim Jaouani, Fabien Laborde, Lucie Monier-Reyes and Aurore Gorius
Mark Hunter led Universite’ de Paris students as they broke the story of how a law designed to make officials more honest served only to enrich them at public expense, in virtual secrecy. French politicians are allowed to hold two offices at the same time. The “Transfer” system gave them a mechanism to redistribute half of their second salary to others within their party. This turned into a patronage system funded to the tune of at least 45 million Euros (the same sum in U.S. dollars) of public money over the last decade. Constructing databases and making the most of public information, the students built a strong indictment of France’s “Transfer” system. Overcoming officeholder indifference and a lack of cooperation, the students built a strong investigation shining light into a dark system that shrouded how elected officials are paid.
Special Recognition for an International Entry
“Georgian Railway,” Rustavi2 (Tbilisi, Georgia), Nino Zuriashvili; Alexandre Kvatashidze
Special Recognition for an International Entry
“Tracking the E-Waste Trail,” Radio Television Hong Kong, Canace Lam Kit-yin and Benny Sea Chi-wai