‘News & Observer,’ ‘Globe,’ ‘Washington Post’ Among Shorenstein Prize Finalists

By: E&P Staff

The finalists for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting from the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press Politics and Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, announced Friday, include reporters from The Washington Post, Boston Globe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.

The winner of the Goldsmith Prize, which includes a $25,000 cash award, will be announced at a March 23 ceremony at the Harvard Kennedy School. Finalists are awarded $10,000.

This year the awards will include a special citation to the staff of The Seattle Times for its breaking news coverage of the murders of four policemen.

The following are the six finalists for the investigative reporting prize, with descriptions of the work provided by the Shorenstein Center:

J. Andrew Curliss and Staff
of the News & Observer for “Executive Privilege: The Perks of Power”

The News & Observer’s year-long investigation of former North Carolina Governor Mike Easley exposed pay-to-play politics at its worst. Their reporting revealed how Easley accepted numerous unreported gifts from supporters in return for political influence and “sweet deals.” The facts uncovered in this series launched state and federal criminal investigations, led to resignations and firings, exposed election law violations and spurred government reforms.

Mark Greenblatt
KHOU-TV, Houston, Texas
“Under Fire: Discrimination and Corruption in the Texas National Guard”

KHOU-TV exposed rampant sexual discrimination, abuses of power, cover-ups to Congress, financial corruption and theft by the National Guard’s top commanding generals. As a result, the Texas governor fired the accused commanders, the FBI and DA have launched criminal probes and three new state laws have been passed, requiring better oversight of the Guard by both the Governor’s office and the state assembly.

Sean P. Murphy
The Boston Globe
“Gaming the System: Public Pensions the Massachusetts Way”

Sean P. Murphy exposed how state officials took advantage of loopholes in the state retirement system to enrich themselves at taxpayers’ expense. The result of his investigations prodded the Massachusetts State Legislature and Governor Deval Patrick to enact and overhaul pension laws. The story also led two ex-legislators to publicly renounce hundreds of thousands of dollars in future pension benefits.

Raquel Rutledge
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Cashing in on Kids”

In her year-long series covering Wisconsin’s child-care program, Raquel Rutledge exposed a system plagued by fraud, deceit and criminal activity which cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and repeatedly put children in danger. Her reporting led to criminal probes and indictments and prompted lawmakers to pass new laws aimed at eliminating fraud and keeping criminals out of the day care business.

Joe Stephens, Lena H. Sun and Lyndsey Layton
The Washington Post
“Death on the Rails”

Reporters from The Washington Post uncovered repeated lapses in safety in Washington’s Metro subway system and a systemic breakdown in safety oversight. As a result of the Post series, the Metro has instituted sweeping reorganization; there has been a congressional demand for reform, and in a historic step, the federal government announced it would move to take over regulation of subways and light rail systems across the nation.

A.C. Thompson
ProPublica and The Nation Institute
In collaboration with: Gordon Russell, Laura Maggi and Brendan McCarthy, The New Orleans Times-Picayune and Tom Jennings, Frontline
“Law and Disorder”

ProPublica’s A.C. Thompson, in collaboration with journalists from The Nation, The New Orleans Times-Picayune and PBS’s Frontline, exposed the existence of white vigilante violence and questions about the New Orleans Police Department’s use of deadly force days after Hurricane Katrina. This series provoked an FBI investigation resulting in a federal grand jury examining police conduct. These hearings are expected to yield indictments.

“The inspiring thing about this year’s awards is that the competition was so fierce, demonstrating that there are still journalists out there doing this critically important work in these hard times,” said Alex S. Jones, Director of the Shorenstein Center.

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