Business & Economy

VTDigger is a finalist for Investigative Reporters & Editors FOI award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 4, 2017
2016 IRE AWARD WINNERS

Contact:
Doug Haddix, IRE executive director, 573-882-1984 or [email protected]
Jill Riepenhoff, Contest Committee chair, 614-638-6883 or
[email protected]
Matt Goldberg, IRE board president, 818-684-1931 or [email protected]

In the year in which presidential politics seemingly dominated the news, journalists from around the world exposed doctors who preyed on their patients and USA gymnastics coaches who sexually assaulted young athletes.

The work of other journalists led to improved living conditions for the disabled, the end of hidden co-pays with prescription drugs by a giant health insurance company and a criminal investigation of campaign finance law in Britain.

These investigations are among the 18 winning entries in the 2016 Investigative Reporters & Editors Awards. Another 37 entries were chosen as finalists.

A team of more than 400 journalists from around the globe who produced the “Panama Papers” project has been selected as the winner of the Gannett Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism. The reporters sifted through 11.5 million leaked files to expose the hidden financial dealings of world leaders, fraudsters, gangsters, drug traffickers, billionaires, celebrities, sports stars and more.

“If you are looking for inspiration, high-caliber reporting, and impressive execution, look no farther than this exceptional lineup of award-winning journalism,” said Jill Riepenhoff, chair of IRE’s Contest Committee and a projects reporter with The Columbus Dispatch. “The judges
were impressed by the strong investigative work being done in newsrooms around the world, from small to large. The winners and finalists faced immense obstacles – and in some cases, threats – but persevered. They show that the work of our members is more important than ever.”

This year’s winners and finalists were selected from among more than 480 entries.

SPECIAL AWARDS

Medals are awarded to winners of two special award categories:

TOM RENNER AWARD

Winner
“Out of Balance,” The Indianapolis Star, Marisa Kwiatkowski, Mark Alesia, Tim Evans, Steve Berta.

Judges’ comments: For years, USA Gymnastics, based in Indianapolis as the sport’s governing body for its Olympic teams, turned a blind eye and deaf ear to complaints by parents and others that a number of its member coaches at local gyms around the country were sexually abusing the underage girls whom they trained. Calls were ignored, letters were dumped into a drawer and
forgotten, dismissed as hearsay unless signed by a parent or athlete, as none ever was. For 16 years, one such trainer preyed on girls in at least four states before finally caught and arrested.

The newspaper’s reporting encouraged a number of victims to go public. By the end of the year, the newspaper could count hundreds of gymnasts who had been assaulted in the past two decades. The Star’s work prompted the ouster of the USA Gymnastics president and led to the charges against physician Larry Nassar at Michigan State University who had been on the American team’s staff at four Olympic Games. Nasser has since been indicted on federal and state charges. Without question, this series of stories was one of the most important and impactful works of journalism seen in recent years.

Finalists:
“Descent into Disorder,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Patrick Marley, Jason Stein, John Diedrich, Catie Edmondson, Kevin Crowe

“Dying for Change: Domestic Violence & Law Enforcement Failures,” KMGH-Denver, Tony Kovaleski, Brittany Freeman, Andy Miller, Peter Lipomi, Lindsay Radford.

“Serbian Government Assets Revealed,” Crime and Corruption Reporting Network-KRIK (assisted by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project), Dragana Peco, Pavle Petrovic, Jelena Vasic, Natasa Markovic, Bojana Pavlovic, Stevan Dojcinovic, Bojana Jovanovic, Drew Sullivan.

FOI AWARD

Winner
“Denied: How Texas Keeps Tens of Thousands of Children Out of Special Education,” Houston Chronicle, Brian M. Rosenthal.

Judges’ comments: 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 such as tutoring, counseling and therapy. Adherence to the standard was a factor in school performance scores. The measure saved the state billions of dollars. “Denied” initiated critical change, prompting the U.S. Department of Education to investigate and quickly order that the benchmark end, with remedies for its damage.

The shift removed a roadblock to some 250,000 more children entitled to special education who finally could receive needed services. The Chronicle’s use of records and their denial as a foundation for its extensive shoe-leather reporting, and that of others, is a model for investigative
reporting. In triggering change for vulnerable children, “Denied” exemplifies the best aspirations of journalism to expose injustice and alleviate harm.

Finalists:

“Chemical Breakdown,” Houston Chronicle, Matt Dempsey, Mark Collette, Susan Carroll, Michael Ciaglo.

Jay Peak’s Path to Fraud: Vermont Ski Resort Developers Accused of Misusing $200M in ‘Ponzi-like‘ Scheme,” VTDigger.org, Anne Galloway, Mark Johnson and Alan Keays.

“Unholstered: When Texas Police Pull the Trigger,” The Texas Tribune, Jolie McCullough, Alexa Ura, Johnathan Silver, Justin Dehn, Ben Hasson, Emily Albracht, Ryan Murphy, Todd Wiseman.

Ariel Quiros, Peter Shumlin, Ary Quiros, Bill Stenger
Gov. Peter Shumlin, Jay Peak CEO Bill Stenger, Ariel Quiros, the owner of Jay Peak, and his son Ary Quiros at a ribbon cutting. Photo by Hilary Niles/VTDigger

PRINT/ONLINE – LARGE

Winner
“Suffering in Secret,” Chicago Tribune, Michael J. Berens, Patricia Callahan.

Judges’ comments: The strategy seemed simple: the state of Illinois would save money by directing thousands of low-income, disabled, and often defenseless, residents to less expensive private group homes. But what the Chicago Tribune uncovered in “Suffering in Secret” was a system that allowed many of the state’s most vulnerable to be mistreated. Through databases,
court records, investigative files, emails and other public records, the reporters told a story that was heartbreaking, troubling and sorely needed. And beautifully written.

Finalists:
“California National Guard Bonus Enlistment Scandal,” Los Angeles Times, David S. Cloud.

“Nuisance Abatement,” New York Daily News and ProPublica, Sarah Ryley, Barry
Paddock, Christine Lee, Pia Dangelmayer, Andrea Hilbert, Sarah Smith.

“State-run Doping,” The New York Times, Rebecca Ruiz.

PRINT/ONLINE – MEDIUM

Winner
“Doctors & Sex Abuse,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Danny Robbins, Carrie Teegardin, Ariel Hart, Jeff Ernsthausen, Ryon Horne, Richard Watkins, Lois Norder, Alan Judd, Johnny Edwards.

Judges’ comments: After noticing a pattern in Georgia, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporters expanded their investigation to unveil systemic sex abuse of patients by their doctors in every state. In a project reminiscent of the Catholic priest sex abuse scandal, the reporters combined sophisticated research techniques with shoe-leather and public records reporting and found that the medical profession views sexual abuse as an illness to be treated, rather than a crime to be punished. They found some doctors with hundreds of victims and a profession that has resisted actions that could prevent and detect abuse.

Finalists:
“Chemical Breakdown,” Houston Chronicle, Matt Dempsey, Mark Collette, Susan Carroll, Michael Ciaglo.

“Denied: How Texas Keeps Tens of Thousands of Children Out of Special
Education,” Houston Chronicle, Brian M. Rosenthal.

“Out of Balance,” The Indianapolis Star, Marisa Kwiatkowski, Mark Alesia, Tim Evans, Steve Berta.

PRINT/ONLINE – SMALL

Winner
“Failing the Frail,” PennLive.com/The Patriot-News, Daniel Simmons-Ritchie, David Wenner, Nick Malawskey, Sean Simmers.

Judges’ comments: PennLive uncovered major failures with the quality of Pennsylvania’s nursing homes and oversight of the industry. PennLive discovered dozens of avoidable deaths: a diabetic resident who wasn’t given insulin, a resident with Down syndrome who died after his ventilator became disconnected and staff didn’t respond to the alarm for nearly an hour. State
investigations appear to be flawed and punishments are typically weak or non-existent. This compelling, thorough and well-written investigation overcame many obstacles including Pennsylvania’s woeful public records law. Although nursing homes are a common subject, PennLive did it in a state that makes very little public under the law, and achieved results that are
rare.

Finalists:
“Free to Flee,” Naples Daily News, Jacob Carpenter, Brett Blackledge, Manny Garcia, David Albers, Dorothy Edwards, Carolina Hidalgo, Corey Perrine, Scott McIntyre, Harry Walker, Vonna Keomanyvong, Dana Long, Jamie Stoddard, Amy Oshier.

“Heroin: Killer of a generation,” The Palm Beach Post, Pat Beall, Joe Capozzi, Lawrence Mower, John Pacenti, Christine Stapleton, Barbara Marshall, Mike Stucka, Melanie Mena.

LARGE BROADCAST/VIDEO

Winner (TIE)

“Election Expenses Exposed,” Channel 4 News (London), Michael Crick, Job Rabkin, Ed Fraser, Guy Basnett, Andy Lee, Ed Howker, Tom Stone, Paul McNamara.

Judges’ comments: In a country with strict rules on election spending, Channel 4 documented how the ruling Conservative Party evaded local limitations by paying hotel bills and other expenses to send in at least five top Tory staffers to help defeat a pro-Brexit candidate in a byelection.

In other races, it sent “Battle Buses” filled with activists to help campaign for candidates. The current prime minister’s chief-of-staff helped lead a campaign in another district to defeat the leader of the pro-Brexit movement. All these expenses should have been reported as election costs assigned to the local candidates; they were not. Channel 4’s aggressive reporting led to a $100,000 fine levied by the Elections Commission against the Conservative Party and has prompted a still-pending criminal investigation involving up to 20 members of Parliament and others.

“The Lords of the Rings,” HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Rick Bernstein, Joe Perskie, Josh Fine, Nick Dolin, Tim Walker, Bryant Gumbel, Bernie Goldberg, David Scott, Jon Frankel, Beret Remak, Jake Rosenwasser, Daniel Litke, Evan Burgos, Stu Ash, Tres Driscoll, Mike Long, Jason
Schmidt, Jeremy Phillips, Mindy Macinnes.

Judges’ comments: In recent Olympic Games, the losers have been the poorest of citizens in host countries. The winners? The pooh-bahs of the International Olympic Committee who demand luxury hotel suites and other special perks and privileges. Real Sports went to Beijing, host of the
2008 summer games, and evaded Chinese handlers to interview people who lost their homes to make way for Olympic venues; the reporting team was jailed for two days for having slipped away from official surveillance. In Sochi, after the 2014 Winter Games, one former worker told of unreported deaths of imported migrants in construction accidents. Ahead of the IOC vote to
award the 2022 winter games to China once again, Real Sports reported that more than 340 human rights lawyers had disappeared, swept into prison, many not to be heard of again.

Finalists:
“Business of Disaster,” Frontline and NPR, Rick Young, Emma Schwartz, Fritz Kramer, Laura Sullivan, Daniel Sheire, Tim Grucza, Andrew Metz, Raney Aronson-Rath, Nicole Beemsterboer, Robert Little, Michael Oreskes.

“Terror in Europe,” Frontline and ProPublica, Sebastian Rotella, Ricardo Pollack, Dan Edge, Andrew Metz, Raney Aronson-Rath.

MEDIUM BROADCAST/VIDEO

Winner

“Cash for Compliance?” KNXV-Phoenix, David Biscobing, Shawn Martin, Gerard Watson.

Judges’ comments: KNXV revealed how a local group exploited the Americans with Disabilities Act and leveraged it into a money-making machine cloaked as a non-profit organization. In more than two dozen reports, the ABC15 Investigators unraveled multi-layered enterprise and showed deception, hypocrisy, motives and the primary players. Their work prompted state investigations and could permanently change how similar cases are handled across the country.

Finalists
“Charlie Foxtrot,” WXIA-Atlanta, Jeremy Campbell, Erin Gutierrez, Matt Livingston, Lauren Rudeseal, Blis Savidge.

“Transparency,” KHOU-Houston, Jeremy Rogalski, Keith Tomshe, Ty Scholes,
Stephanie Kuzydym, Matthew Keyser.

SMALL BROADCAST/VIDEO

Winner

“Medical Waste,” WVUE-New Orleans, Lee Zurik, Jon Turnipseed, Tom Wright, Mike Schaefer, Greg Phillips.

Judges’ comments: This important investigation exposed the secret process of “clawbacks” in prescription drugs in which major health insurance companies force consumers to pay a hidden premium back to the insurance company for their drugs. The reaction to the work was swift. It led to changes in Louisiana law, served as the backbone of numerous lawsuits and alerted
consumers across the country on how to avoid these shameful clawbacks for necessary medicines. One IRE Judge said this was among the best – if not the best – investigation ever aired. The stories were compelling and deeply reported. This investigation did it all: exposed wrongdoing and prompted change. It was a wonderful public service.

Finalists
“Charity Caught on Camera,” WTHR-Indianapolis, Bob Segall, Bill Ditton, Cyndee Hebert, Susan Batt, Scott Hums.

“Injustice in the Valley,” WJHL-Johnson City, Nate Morabito, Phillip Murrell, Chris Greer.

“Making the Grade,” WTVF-Nashville, Phil Williams, Bryan Staples, Kevin
Wisniewski.

INNOVATION IN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM – LARGE

Winner

“Panama Papers,” International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Süddeutsche Zeitung, McClatchy, the Miami Herald, Fusion, Swedish Television and more than 100 other media partners.

Judges’ comments: Sifting through 2.6 terabytes of data in 11.5 million files with over 400 journalists representing upwards of 100 partners is a seemingly impossible task to coordinate and keep secret. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists showed exceptional ingenuity and skill by developing new tools and approaches that facilitated the unprecedented collaboration, and demonstrated a new model for journalistic co-operation to expose dealings of hundreds of thousands of entities. The results from this project around the world are testimony to its impact. It clearly made public something that others would want to keep secret.

Finalists:
“A Portrait of Donald Trump,” The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold, Rosalind S. Helderman, Alice Crites.

“Dangerous Doses,” Chicago Tribune, Sam Roe, Karisa King and Ray Long.

INNOVATION IN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM – MEDIUM

Winner

“Chemical Breakdown,” Houston Chronicle, Matt Dempsey, Mark Collette, Susan Carroll, Michael Ciaglo.

Judges’ comments: In the wake of a deadly chemical explosion, the Houston Chronicle reporters partnered with experts to create a new method of analyzing and rating potential harm from facilities in the region. Their investigation found harm well beyond industrial corridors, close to
schools and homes. The reporters fought local planning boards for chemical inventory data that was not reported to federal officials and salvaged a repository of national data from a defunct nonprofit that had collected it for years. The local fire department has relied on the project’s work to identify previously unnoticed risks.

Finalists:

“Deadly Pursuit | Persecuciones Mortales,” NBC5 Chicago and Telemundo Chicago, Phil Rogers, Karla Leal, Katy Smyser, Courtney Copenhagen, John Hodai, Richard Moy.

“Doctors & Sex Abuse,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Danny Robbins, Carrie Teegardin, Ariel Hart, Jeff Ernsthausen, Ryon Horne, Richard Watkins, Lois Norder, Alan Judd, Johnny Edwards.

“Toxic Armories,” The Oregonian/Oregonlive, Rob Davis, Teresa Mahoney, Dave Killen, Jessica Greif, Mark Friesen, Melissa Lewis, Dave Cansler, Lynne Palombo, Beth Nakamura, Scott Brown, Randy Mishler, Drew Vattiat, Lora Huntley, Steve Suo, Nora Simon.

INNOVATION IN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM – SMALL

Winner
“Settling for Misconduct,” The Chicago Reporter, Jonah Newman, Matt Kiefer.

Judges’ comments: As the shooting of black men continued to make headlines, various cities were doling out settlements to families. So The Chicago Reporter decided to examine how much the city was paying to settle its police misconduct lawsuits and built its own database. The findings were staggering: Chicago paid out $210 million during a four-year period (and $53
million on outside attorneys), nearly $50 million over its annual budget for lawsuits, and forcing officials to borrow millions to pay the settlements. This project had it all: an interactive database, maps, and video. Well done and timely.

Finalists:
“Bias on the Bench,” Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Josh Salman, Emily Le Coz, Elizabeth Johnson.

“Shrinking Shores,” Naples Daily News, Eric Staats, Ryan Mills, David Albers, Brett Blackledge, Harry Walker, Rebecca Reis, Brett Murphy.

STUDENT REPORTING – LARGE

Winner

Voting Wars: Rights | Power | Privilege” News21, Lily Altavena, Alex Amico, Alejandra Armstrong, Lian Bunny, Elizabeth Campbell, Andrew Clark, Nicole Cobler, Courtney Columbus, Hillary Davis, Sami Edge, Max Garland, Taylor Gilmore, Natalie Griffin, Marianna Hauglie, Sean Holstege, Pinar Istek, Phillip Jackson, Emily Mahoney, Roman Knertser, Michael Lakusiak, Jimmy Miller, Emily Mills, Michael Olinger, Pam Ortega, Kate Peifer, Jeffrey Pierre, Sarah Pitts, Amber Reece, Ali Schmitz, Rose Velazquez, Erin Vogel-Fox.

Judges’ comments: In a nationwide investigation of changes in voting laws, students from 18 universities documented voter disenfranchisement in advance of the 2016 election. Using information from every state legislature and public records from local agencies across the country, along with interviews from 31 states, the students matched or outpaced professional publications to show erosions in voter rights and scant evidence of voter fraud in states that had changed their voting requirements since 2012. They went beyond national politics to find that 5.6 million people now live in communities that have eliminated their school boards, leaving parents without a say in their children’s education. Their travels took them from Shelby, Ala., where the Supreme Court case eliminating portions of the Voting Rights Act began, to Navajo Mountain, where tribe members were fighting for their rights. In advance of the election, their deep reporting also pointed to Donald Trump’s popularity in economically-struggling Democratic regions like Mahoning County in eastern Ohio.

Finalists:
“Discharging Trouble,” Capital News Service, Carlos Alfaro, Joe Antoshak, Darcy Costello, Morgan Eichensehr, Amanda Eisenberg, Nate Kresh, Teresa Lo, Zoe Sagalow, Catherine Sheffo, Daniel Trielli.

“Unsettling,” CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, Kanyakrit Vongkiatkajorn,
Marguerite Ward, Maria Arcel, Isabel Riofrío, Christina Nordvang Jensen.

STUDENT REPORTING – SMALL

Winner

“Pharaoh Brown Investigation,” Oregon Daily Emerald, Kenny Jacoby, Jarrid Denney, Cooper Green.

Judges’ comments: Kenny Jacoby, Jarrid Denney and Cooper Green plowed through massive roadblocks put up by the University of Oregon, its coaches, athletic department administration and a federal student privacy law to expose the truth behind a star football player: He had history of violent behavior. Oregon Duck football player Pharaoh Brown, the reporters documented, punched a teammate, causing a concussion; brawled with another player; and was investigated for trying to choke his girlfriend, whom the police blamed as the instigator. And for all this, Brown faced no punishment from the university, his coaches or the criminal justice system. The
university refused to talk to reporters about the incidents. But these tenacious reporters prevailed by finding sources to verify the findings of their investigation. Their determination is an example for all investigative reporters: They refused to quit or back down to a powerful athletic program.

Finalist:
“Rental Inspections,” The Bottom Line, Brad Kroner.

LARGE RADIO/AUDIO

Winner
“Advanced Black Lung Cases Surge in Appalachia,” NPR, Howard Berkes, Howard Berkes, Robert Little, Nicole Beemsterboer, with contributions from Benny Becker, Jeff Young of Ohio Valley ReSource.

Judges’ comments: Howard Berkes discovered 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. But its methodology missed hundreds of miners who needed their paychecks and waited to go to clinics to seek federal benefits until they were laid off, their mines closed, or they were too sick to work. A poignant story with personal interviews, like that with one miner who said, “The more I talk, the more I get out of breath,” and another who called his rock-cutting machine “the Dust Dragon.”

Finalists:
“Business of Disaster,” NPR and Frontline, Laura Sullivan, Nicole Beemsterboer, Meg Anderson, Barbara Van Woerkom, Alicia Cypress, Robert Little, Rick Young, Emma Schwartz, Fritz Kramer, Daniel Sheire, Tim Grucza, Andrew Metz, Raney Aronson-Rath.

“Doubled Up In Solitary Confinement,” NPR and The Marshall Project, Joseph
Shapiro, Christie Thompson, Robert Little, Raha Naddaf, Nicole Beemsterboer, Barbara Van Woerkom, Alicia Cypress, Emily Bogle.

“In the Dark,” American Public Media Reports, Madeleine Baran, Samara Freemark, Natalie Jablonski, Catherine Winter, Chris Worthington, Will Craft, Curtis Gilbert, Jennifer Vogel, Tom Scheck, Hans Buetow, Dave Peters, Andy Kruse, Jeff Thompson, Emily Haavik, Jackie Renzetti, Johnny Vince Evans, Corey Schreppel, Cameron Wiley, Gary Meister.

SMALL RADIO/AUDIO

Winner

“The University of Louisville Foundation Bought An Empty Factory In Oklahoma Because A Donor Asked,” The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, Kate Howard.

Judges’ comments: A classic investigation of which any large network program would have been proud. A donor and a member of the University of Louisville’s Board of Overseers turned his abandoned Oklahoma factory over to the university’s fundraising arm. Reporter Kate Howard found that the multi-layered $3.47 million transaction had no academic purpose, did not result in any revenue for the organization, and appeared to be an ethical breach and tax code violation. She went to Oklahoma to ask questions and poke around on the ground – a trip that prompted quick results. The university began unwinding the deal while she was still on a plane back in
Louisville the next day for her eventual broadcast exclusive.

Finalists:
No finalists selected

INVESTIGATIONS TRIGGERED BY BREAKING NEWS

Winner
“Tragedy on Verruckt,” The Kansas City Star, Matt Campbell, Robert Cronkleton, Eric Adler, Steve Vockrodt, Laura Bauer, Tony Rizzo, Katy Bergen, Scott Canon, Hunter Woodall, Toriano Porter.

Judges’ comments: After the death of a 10-year-old boy at a Kansas water park, an aggressive team of reporters and editors from The Kansas City Star dove deep on the construction and oversight of the world’s tallest water slide. Their reporting revealed a lack of state regulation over amusement park rides and little outside review for safety that was putting the public at risk. The reporters also found other riders who experienced trouble on the ride – and had alerted staff to the malfunctions. Following their work, the owner of the amusement park permanently shut down the ride.

Finalists
“Investigations following Philando Castile shooting,” Star Tribune, Brandon Stahl, Andy Mannix, Jennifer Bjorhus, Dan Browning, MaryJo Webster, Jeff Hargarten.

“Rail Crossings Danger,” CBC, Dave Seglins, Jacques Marcoux, Jeremy McDonald, Holly Moore.

BOOK

Winner

“The Profiteers: Bechtel and the Men Who Built the World,” by Sally Denton.
Judges’ comments: The judges admire the historical lead-up and the contemporary exposé of a multinational corporation specializing in engineering, construction, energy generation and weapons of war. Denton dug beneath the veneer of secrecy to reveal the unconscionable interconnections between government agencies and Bechtel. As a result of its massive
government contracts, Bechtel has influenced American foreign policy to match its own interests, which are not always congruent with the best course for the nation. Given Bechtel’s international reach, it seems fitting that Denton decided to write this book after noticing the billions of dollars being paid to Bechtel from the U.S. treasury to allegedly rebuild post-war Iraq.

“The Making of Donald Trump,” by David Cay Johnston.

“Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan,” by Nick Turse.

GANNETT AWARD FOR INNOVATION IN WATCHDOG JOURNALISM

“Panama Papers,” International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Süddeutsche Zeitung, McClatchy, Miami Herald, Fusion, Swedish Television and more than 100 other media partners.

See judges’ comments under “Large Innovation winner”

Contest entries were screened and judged by IRE members who are working or retired journalists. Work that included any significant role by any member of the IRE Contest Committee could not be entered in the contest. IRE Board members who did not serve as judges were permitted to enter their work. First-round screeners did not review categories in which their news organization could compete.

Serving on the Contest Committee represents a significant sacrifice on the part of the individual contest judges – and often an entire newsroom – that may have done outstanding investigative work. For example, The Columbus Dispatch and KNBC-Los Angeles were wholly ineligible to compete, and some work from WSMV-Nashville, The New York Times and The Washington
Post could not be entered in this year’s contest.

This year’s contest judges:
 Jill Riepenhoff, The Columbus Dispatch, contest committee chair and IRE board member
 Matt Goldberg, KNBC-Los Angeles, IRE Board President
 Nancy Amons, WSMV-Nashville
 Sarah Cohen, The New York Times, IRE board member and past president
 Saleem Khan, INVSTG8.NET
 James Polk, retired (CNN)
 Cheryl W. Thompson, The Washington Post, IRE board member

IRE, founded in 1975, is a nonprofit professional organization dedicated to training and supporting journalists who pursue investigative stories. It operates the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting, a joint program of IRE and the Missouri School of Journalism. The IRE Awards will be presented at a luncheon on Saturday, June 24 at the 2017 IRE
Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.
See the full list of winners, finalists and judges’ comments at:
http://ire.org/awards/ire-awards/winners/2016-ire-award-winners/

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  • david schwartz

    Congratulations to VTdigger!! You are clearly one of the most trusted news sites in the region. In this time of obfuscation, alternate facts and outright lying, we need investigative reporters like you. Thanks for all of your hard work. It is so refreshing to learn that the art of journalism is alive and well.

  • ruth sproull

    Well-deserved, Anne!

  • John Klar

    Good for vtdigger! I am confident that more and more Vermonters, whatever their political persuasion, are trusting vtdigger as a reliable, timely, motivated source for journalism and commentary. It was vtdigger also who pressed the Shumlin administration for its EB-5/Stenger emails. Without accountability via effective watchdog journalism, our state invites embezzlement and corruption. Keep it up — “digger” is an excellent moniker.

  • Jerry Kilcourse

    Congratulations, Anne, Alan, and Mark!!