Inside Public Integrity

Published — January 30, 2014 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Two Center projects named finalists for Goldsmith investigative reporting prize

Black lung stories, offshore tax haven probe cited; CPI only outlet with two honorees


Two Center for Public Integrity projects were among the six finalists announced Thursday for the prestigious Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.

The Center is the only news organization with more than a single finalist for the award, which is given by the Joan Shorenstein Center for the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. The annual prize, widely considered one of the field’s most important, recognizes 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.”

One Center for Public Integrity finalist, “Breathless and Burdened: Dying from Black Lung, Buried by Law and Medicine,” was a year-long investigation done in partnership with the ABC News Brian Ross investigative unit. The series detailed how doctors and lawyers working at the behest of the coal industry helped defeat benefit claims of coal miners who were sick and dying of black lung disease.

The Center reporting team explored previously classified legal filings and created a database of medical evidence revealing how lawyers withheld key evidence and how doctors at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions consistently denied the existence of advanced black lung on X-rays.

Following the online and network news reports, Johns Hopkins suspended its black lung program, U.S. senators began crafting reform legislation and members of Congress asked for a federal investigation.

The other finalist, “Secrecy for Sale: Inside the Global Offshore Money Maze,” was produced by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a project of the Center.

Based on more than 2.5 million leaked files, the 50-story investigation involved 112 journalists and 42 media partners in 58 nations.

The ICIJ project was an unprecedented media collaboration that took 18 months to report, and revealed more than 120,000 names and companies in a hidden parallel economy of offshore tax havens. The articles prompted multiple international tax investigations, including those by the IRS, in partnership with UK and Australian tax authorities.

The 15-year-old International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, headquartered at The Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C., is made up of 175 ICIJ members who work as investigative reporters in more than 60 countries.

“I’m proud of the fact that two of The Center for Public Integrity’s investigative projects are being recognized as finalists for this important prize,” said Center Executive Director Bill Buzenberg. “Both of these projects took more than a year of hard work and were extraordinary in their depth, breadth and impact. This work represents the best of what the Center for Public Integrity is about.”

Other finalists are the Miami New Times, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wall Street Journal and a collaboration involving the University of California’s investigative reporting program, The Center for Investigative Reporting, FRONTLINE, Univision Documentaries and KQED.

“The finalists this year are emblematic of the future of journalism: non-profit news organizations working with for-profits, individual investigations alongside enormous team investigations, big media companies, a weekly newspaper—and excellence all around. It’s thrilling,” said Alex S. Jones, director of the Shorenstein Center.

The investigative reporting prize carries a $10,000 award for finalists, and $25,000 for the winning news organization. The winner will be announced in a March 5 event at a Goldsmith Awards ceremony at Harvard’s Kennedy School.

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