2016 Philip Meyer Award winners

These awards will be presented at the 2017 CAR Conference in Jacksonville, Florida.

The contest, for work published or broadcast between Oct. 1, 2014 and Sept. 30, 2016, 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 [email protected].

Entries were judged by Rose Ciotta, Associate Editor at EdSource; Robert Gebeloff, Database Projects Editor at The New York Times; Brant Houston, Knight Chair in Investigative Reporting at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; David McKie, Investigative Producer in CBC News’ Parliamentary bureau; Cheryl Phillips, Lorry I. Lokey Visiting Professor in Professional Journalism at Stanford University; Jodi Upton, Knight Chair in Data and Explanatory Journalism Professor at Syracuse University; Matt Waite, Professor of Practice at University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

First Place

Doctors & Sex Abuse” | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Jeff Ernsthausen, Shawn McIntosh, Danny Robbins, Carrie Teegardin, Ariel Hart, Richard Watkins, Ryon Horne, Lois Norder, Johnny Edwards, and Alan Judd
Read the story online 

The newspaper took data analysis for a story to new levels of sophistication. The goal was to root out instances in which doctors had abused patients and gone unpunished, but the task was more than daunting. The team built 50 scrapers to pull in more than 100,000 documents. They then used machine learning to analyze all of those documents, searching for keywords that alluded to cases of sexual misconduct. They backed up their findings with other sophisticated data analysis and shoe-leather reporting. The sheer scope of their project was impressive. What was even more impressive were the results. The investigation found that doctors in every state had abused patients, and even when caught, still went unpunished.

Second Place

How Fire Feeds” | Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting
Eric Sagara, Scott Pham, Sinduja Rangarajan and Julia Smith
Read the story online 

The team used satellite imagery and eight other government data sets to examine three large wildfires in creative, groundbreaking ways. An interactive, visually appealing online presentation guided readers through the analysis, enabling them to explore how fire and topography intersect to create deadly blazes. More than 170,000 acres burned during the fires, leaving the areas vulnerable to flooding and erosion. The project provided a cautionary tale of potential wildfire outbreaks that may pose ongoing risk for years to come.

Third Place

The Tennis Racket” | BuzzFeed News and the BBC
Heidi Blake and John Templon of BuzzFeed News, and Simon Cox of the BBC
Read the story online 

In a first-of-its-kind analysis by a media outlets, BuzzFeed News and the BBC used a million simulations of a series of tennis matches to discover suspicious patterns in shifting betting odds and players who lost matches they statistically shouldn’t have. What emerged was a pattern of match fixing among a small group of professional tennis players. During the reporting, a whistleblower shared with BuzzFeed the results of a professional tennis internal investigation that found similar patterns, but the sport shelved the investigation and did nothing. As a result of the investigation, professional tennis stars have called for greater transparency in corruption investigations surrounding the sport, and several government entities have conducted hearings.