2015 Philip Meyer Award winners

These awards will be presented at the 2016 CAR Conference in Denver.

The contest, for work published or broadcast between Oct. 1, 2014 and Sept. 30, 2015, attracted entries from across the country. Stories are available to IRE members through the IRE Resource Center. Click on the links below to read the award-winner stories, or contact us at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org.

Entries were judged by Sarah Cohen, data editor at The New York Times; Steve Doig, Knight Chair in Journalism at Arizona State University; Brant Houston, Professor and Knight Chair in Investigative Reporting at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Philip Meyer, Knight Chair emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of “Precision Journalism”; and Matt Waite, Professor of Practice at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

 

First Place

Failure Factories” | Tampa Bay Times
Cara Fitzpatrick, Michael LaForgia, Lisa Gartner, Nathaniel Lash and Connie Humburg

The team used statistical analysis and linear regression of data from dozens of records requests to document how steady resegregation of Pinellas County schools left black children to fail at increasingly higher rates than anywhere else in Florida. The series focused on failures of school district officials to give the schools the support necessary for success. The judges praised the reporters for dogged work on a project that took 18 months to report and write, and noted that the results underscored what decades of sociological research has shown happens in racially segregated schools.

 

Second Place

The Changing Face of America” | USA Today
Paul Overberg, Sarah Frostenson, Marisol Bello, Greg Toppo, and Jodi Upton 

The project was built around measurements across time of the racial and ethnic diversity of each of America’s more than 3,100 counties, going back to 1960 and projected ahead to 2060. The reporters used the results to reveal that high levels of diversity, once found only in a few Southern states and along the border with Mexico, had bloomed out into large areas of the upper Midwest and the Appalachians, for instance. Those results informed the assignments of reporters to find the local stories that illustrated those changes, with the results running in more than 100 Gannett papers and broadcast stations.

 

Third Place

The Echo Chamber” | Thomson Reuters
Joan Biskupic, Janet Roberts and John Shiffman

The Reuters team analyzed the characteristics of more than 14,400 U.S. Supreme Court records from nine years worth of petitions seeking review by the Court. The analysis showed that 43% of cases eventually heard by the court came from a tiny pool of a few dozen lawyers who represent less than 1% of the more than 17,000 lawyers seeking such review. Further reporting showed that these elite lawyers, mostly representing large corporations, had strong personal connections with the justices, with about half of them having served as clerks to the justices.