‘Tis the season of media awards with lots of great investigative journalists — and great investigative stories — getting honored for their muckraking. We’ve picked some notable winners and finalists from the European Press Prizes, the Pulitzers, and the IRE Awards. Big congratulations to the winners and finalists, who have showcased grit and determination in exposing injustices and corruption across the globe. Despite all the challenges we face, muckraking has never been in better hands.
The Center for Investigative Journalism of Serbia won the 2017 Investigative Reporting Award with its series of articles on corruption and organized crime. Serbian politicians may boast successes in prosecuting corruption and organized crime, but CIJ Serbia’s six-month investigation showed that convictions, indictments, and verdicts were actually few and far between.
The awards jury, in its report, expressed its admiration for the persistence of the CIJ journalists in Serbia and the range of their investigations. “These are revelations of the utmost importance to Serbian society,” the jury noted. “They fulfill the most basic promise of investigative journalists to their readers: they lift the curtains of corruption and let the light shine in.”
CIJ Serbia was in the impressive company of six other finalists.
- Rata Mariana in Moldova investigated the trade of Moldovan-manufactured illegal anabolics, which are smuggled into the EU, Africa, the USA and Russia. She exposed how Moldovan state institutions were complicit in this illegal business.
- The Panama Papers team of Süddeutsche Zeitung, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, The Guardian, Le Monde and 39 other European media outlets uncovered the shady activities of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which was creating shell companies that help to hide the ownership of assets of corporations, politicians and fraudsters.
- Tom Burgis, for the Financial Times, exposed the role of London’s bankers in facilitating tax evasion and money laundering
- Kostas Koukoumakas, Thanasis Trobouki, Millen Enchevs, and Laurent Laughlin, from VICE Greece, uncovered how the demand for private adoptions in Greece encouraged the trafficking of babies from impoverished, pregnant Roma women in the slums of Bulgaria
- Per Mathiessen, Jonas Sahl, James Kristoffer Miles, Peter Jeppesen, Kristian B. Larsen, Wojciech Ciesla, Michal Krzymowski, Sarunas Cerniauskas, from Ekstra Bladet, Denmark, researched how political parties in Europe have misused and abused EU subsidies
- Arfi Fabrice, of the European Investigative Collaboration, tracked down weapons used in previous acts of terrorism
Eric Eyre of Charleston Gazette-Mail exposed the flood of opioids flowing into West Virginia counties with the highest overdose death rates in the country.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, McClatchy, and the Miami Herald won for their U.S. role in the Panama Papers investigation, a mega-collaboration of more than 300 reporters to investigate the workings of the secretive global offshore tax haven.
The New York Times Staff for agenda-setting reporting on Vladimir Putin’s efforts to project Russia’s power abroad, revealing techniques that included assassination, online harassment and the planting of incriminating evidence on opponents.
Tom Renner Award
IRE’s crime reporting medal went to the Indianapolis Star’s Marisa Kwiatkowski, Mark Alesia, Tim Evans, Steve Berta. The team exposed the unchecked sexual abuse of underaged gymnasts under the nose of the governing body USA Gymnastics.
Brian M. Rosenthal of the Houston Chronicle mounted an exhaustive effort to probe a secret, arbitrary, and illegal quota set by Texas state officials in 2004 to limit the number of students who could receive special education services.
Print/Online – Large
The Chicago Tribune’s Michael J. Berens and Patricia Callahan revealed a system that allowed thousands of low-income, disabled, and often defenseless, residents in Illnois to be mistreated in taxpayer-funded homes.
Broadcast Video – Large (Tie)
A Channel 4 News (London) team documented how the ruling Conservative Party evaded local limitations and underreported expenses in its election campaigns.
An HBO Real Sports’ team of nearly 20 people investigated the human cost of hosting the Olympics.
Innovation in Investigative Journalism
Another Panama Papers win: ICIJ, Süddeutsche Zeitung, McClatchy, the Miami Herald, Fusion, Swedish Television, and more than 100 other media partners won for their exceptional ingenuity and skill in developing new tools and approaches that facilitated the unprecedentedly large investigative collaboration of more than 100 media partners. The group also won the Gannett Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism.
Student Reporting — Large
Students from 18 universities documented voter disenfranchisement in advance of the 2016 election and showed erosion in voter rights and scant evidence of voter fraud in states that had changed their voting requirements since 2012.
Radio/Audio — Large
NPR’s Howard Berkes, Robert Little, Nicole Beemsterboer, as well as Benny Becker and Jeff Young of Ohio Valley Resource found that deadly Black Lung cases in West Virginia and nearby coal states were 10 times higher than the official count, mainly because the federal government was tracking only working miners.
Investigations Triggered by Breaking News
A Kansas City Star reporting team looked into the construction and regulations of the world’s tallest water slide in a Kansas water park after a 10-year-old boy died while riding it.
“The Profiteers: Bechtel and the Men Who Built the World,” by Sally Denton. The judges admired the historical lead-up and the contemporary expose of a multinational corporation specializing in engineering, construction, energy generation, and weapons of war.