Shorenstein Center Announces Six Finalists for 2012 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting

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By: Press Release | Harvard Kennedy School

CAMBRIDGE, MA – Six finalists for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting have been announced by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.  The winner of the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, which carries a cash award of $25,000, will be announced at an awards ceremony on March 6, 2012 at the Kennedy School.

The Goldsmith Prizes are underwritten by an annual gift from the Goldsmith Fund of the Greenfield Foundation.  The Investigative Reporting Prize, which carries a $10,000 award for finalists, is intended to recognize and encourage journalism which promotes more effective and ethical conduct of government, the making of public policy, or the practice of politics by disclosing excessive secrecy, impropriety and mismanagement, or instances of particularly commendable government performance.

“Powerful investigative reporting is one of the nation’s greatest resources, and it is heartening to see such journalism, produced at the highest level, over so many platforms,” said Alex S. Jones, director of the Shorenstein Center.

The six finalists for the 2012 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting are:

Brian Ross, Anna Schecter and the ABC News Investigative Team

ABC News 20/20

“Peace Corps: A Trust Betrayed”

On the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps’ founding, a 10-month ABC News investigation into the murder of young volunteer Kate Puzey in Africa uncovered a shocking, systematic failure to protect Peace Corps volunteers who were victims of sexual abuse or whistleblowers who tried to report it.  The ABC News report led to historic changes, including a new law designed to protect Peace Corps volunteers, and requires the Peace Corp to hire victims’ advocates and improve training.

Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eileen Sullivan and Chris Hawley
Associated Press
“NYPD Intelligence Division”

The New York Police Department, in close collaboration with the CIA and with nearly no outside oversight, developed clandestine spying programs that monitored and catalogued daily life in Muslim communities, from where people ate and shopped to where they worked and prayed.  AP’s reporting led three dozen lawmakers in Washington to call for House Judiciary Committee and Justice Department investigations. 

Jim Morris, Ronnie Greene, Chris Hamby and Keith Epstein, Center for Public Integrity and
Elizabeth Shogren, Howard Berkes, Sandra Bartlett and Susanne Reber, National Public Radio
“Poisoned Places: Toxic Air, Neglected Communities”

“Poisoned Places” exposed the regulatory failures and political forces that cause millions of Americas to continue breathing unsafe air and, for the first time, publicly revealed the EPA’s internal “watch list” of the nation’s most troublesome air polluters.  This report triggered immediate enforcement action in two states, a push for openness by the EPA and an avalanche of coverage across the U.S.

Mark Greenblatt, David Raziq and Keith Tomshe
KHOU-TV (CBS Houston)

“A Matter of Risk: Radiation, Drinking Water, and Deception”

KHOU-TV’s I-team discovered public drinking water so contaminated with radiation, the underground plumbing it traveled through was turned away by scrap yards as “too hot” to recycle. Radiation lab test results for every community in Texas were wrongfully lowered, leaving consumers in the dark about their true health risks. After this report, many of the most radioactive “water wells” were taken offline, while grassroots pressure from citizens at town hall meetings and scientists from around the country forced other widespread changes. 

Danny Hakim and Russell Buettner
The New York Times
“Abused and Used”

Over the past decade, more than 1,200 developmentally disabled people in the care of New York State died for reasons other than natural causes.  And no one questioned why state workers who beat or sexually abused the developmentally disabled were allowed to keep their jobs. This report led Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to force out the two top state officials in charge of care for the developmentally disabled, the state moved to fire 130 employees found to have abused or neglected patients in their care, and several other changes.

Dafna Linzer and Jennifer LaFleur

ProPublica (co-published with The Washington Post)

“Presidential Pardons”

An analysis of presidential pardon recommendations made by the Justice Department during George W. Bush’s administration shows that whites were nearly four times as likely as minorities to succeed; applicants with the support of a member of Congress were three times as likely to receive a pardon. These findings prompted the Justice Department to launch a review and ignited a debate about why pardons are underused, how to eliminate bias and how best to reshape the entire system.

Special Citation:

Bradley Keoun, Phil Kuntz, Bob Ivry, Craig Torres, Scott Lanman and Christopher Condon
Bloomberg News
“The Fed’s Trillion-Dollar Secret”

Bloomberg News sued the Federal Reserve under the Freedom of Information Act, won an unprecedented release of records and then used sophisticated database reporting to reveal how the U.S. central bank dished $1.2 trillion in bailout loans to Wall Street’s biggest banks.  Bloomberg’s lawsuit led Congress to create new disclosure rules in the Dodd-Frank law.  The suit spurred the central bank to greater transparency and revealed the extreme extent of the 2008 bank crisis.

The Goldsmith Awards Ceremony

When:              6:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Where:             John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum

                        John F. Kennedy School of Government

                        Harvard University

                        79 JFK Street

                        Cambridge, MA

What:              Presentation of the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, the Goldsmith Book Prizes and the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism.

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