Inside Public Integrity

Published — April 7, 2014 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Center black lung series earns White House Correspondents’ Award


For the second straight year, the Center for Public Integrity has earned a prestigious White House Correspondents’ Association Award for stories exploring environmental and health hazards imperiling laborers.

Center reporter Chris Hamby earned the Edgar A. Poe Award for national reporting for Breathless and Burdened: Dying from Black Lung, Buried by Law and Medicine, an investigation produced in partnership with the ABC News Investigative Unit. Hamby will receive the award along with Brian Ross and Matthew Mosk of ABC News.

“This team showed how a true collaboration between media partners can break significant new ground on an already well-reported story, in this case the destructiveness of coal mining and the ‘black lung’ that miners have suffered from for many decades,” judges wrote.

The reports, spotlighting how coal industry lawyers and doctors helped beat back miners’ claims for health benefits, prompted significant reform. Johns Hopkins Medicine suspended operations in its black lung unit following the reports, and the Labor Department and members of Congress are pushing reform. The series has received other prestigious honors, including the Harvard Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.

The White House Correspondents’ Association recognized two winners for the Poe reporting award. Along with Breathless and Burdened, Reuters was honored for “The Child Exchange: Inside America’s Underground Market for Adopted Children,” by Megan Twohey.

Other winners announced Monday were Politico, the New York Times, CNN and CBS News. Honorees will be recognized in a May 3 dinner attended by President Obama and the First Lady, Michelle Obama.

In 2013, the Center’s environmental team won the Edgar A. Poe Award for Hard Labor, a series of reports exposing threats to blue collar workers nationwide.

Also this week, Hamby’s Breathless and Burdened series was honored with a James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. Judges said the “yearlong investigation exposes a new level of injustice in industry-backed ploys blocking coal miners from receiving compensation.” The Aronson Awards, administered by Hunter College, recognized other winners from The New York Times, OnEarth, Miami New Times and Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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