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"Analysis of use of new media in democratization efforts and use of these media by terrorist organizations."
This investigation came in several installments throughout the year. The city of San Diego, unlike any other government in California, operates two redevelopment agencies outside of the traditional City Hall structure and with little oversight, running them as separate nonprofit corporations with their own presidents, boards, offices and identities. An investigation into those two public agencies, which have combined annual budgets of nearly $300 million, uncovered a rogue system of forgotten government, which was underscored by a clandestine bonus system. The president of one agency used to pay herself and her aides more than $1 million over 5 years and numerous conflicts of interests between developers and top officials.
"Tobacco Underground" is groundbreaking series on the global trade in smuggled cigarettes, produced by a team of 14 journalists based in 10 countries. The illicit trafficking of tobacco is a multibillion-dollar business today, fueling organized crime and corruption, robbing governments of needed tax money, and spurring addiction to a deadly product. So profitable is the trade that tobacco is the world's most widely smuggled legal substance. In an interactive, multimedia Web site, ICIJ published a series of nine stories, integrated with undercover footage; audio and video interviews with experts, smugglers and undercover agents; maps and charts; and extensive links to resources ranging from tobacco control groups to repositories of tobacco industry documents.
The Center for Investigative Reporting and National Public Radio launched the "Secret Money Project" as a joint initiative to track the hidden money in the election season. In 2004, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth advertisements hurt Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's campaign. In the 2008 presidential campaign, independent groups also did everything possible -- sometimes well under the radar -- to influence the election. Independent groups raised and spent tens of millions of dollars, unleashing attack ads, robocalls and direct mail across the country. Although NPR is best known as a radio network, the primary venue for the Secret MOney Project was npr.org. The project Web site featured a blog of breaking news and analysis. It serves as a searchable database of independent groups and attack ads, which provided a real-time public resource during the election and will continue to be a research tool that can shed light on future political races.