2010 Goldsmith book prizes, reporting finalists announced

January 29, 2010

Alex S. Jones with the winners of the 2009 investigative-reporting prize, Debbie Cenziper and Sarah Cohen.

Alex S. Jones with the winners of the 2009 investigative-reporting prize, Debbie Cenziper and Sarah Cohen.

January 29, 2010 — Two winners of the Goldsmith Book Prize and 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 investigative reporting prize, which carries a cash award of $25,000, will be announced at an awards ceremony on March 23 at the Kennedy School.

The book prizes, which include an award of $5,000, were created to honor the best academic and trade books of the year on journalism. 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.

“The inspiring thing about this year’s awards is that the competition was so fierce, demonstrating that there are still journalists out there doing this critically important work in these hard times,” said Alex S. Jones, director of the Shorenstein Center.

The 2010 Goldsmith Book Award winners are:

Matthew Hindman
The Myth of Digital Democracy
Princeton University Press (academic book)

John Maxwell Hamilton
Journalism’s Roving Eye: A History of American Foreign Reporting
Louisiana State University Press (trade book)

The Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting finalists for 2010 are:

J. Andrew Curliss and Staff
The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC)
“Executive Privilege: The Perks of Power”

The News & Observer‘s yearlong investigation of former North Carolina Governor Mike Easley exposed pay-to-play politics at its worst. Their reporting revealed how Easley accepted numerous unreported gifts from supporters in return for political influence and “sweet deals.” The facts uncovered in this series launched state and federal criminal investigations, led to resignations and firings, exposed election law violations and spurred government reforms.

Mark Greenblatt, David Raziq, Keith Tomshe, Robyn Hughes and Chris Henao
KHOU-TV, Houston, TX
“Under Fire: Discrimination and Corruption in the Texas National Guard”

KHOU-TV exposed rampant sexual discrimination, abuses of power, cover-ups to Congress, financial corruption and theft by the National Guard’s top commanding generals. As a result, the Texas governor fired the accused commanders, the FBI and DA have launched criminal probes and three new state laws have been passed, requiring better oversight of the Guard by both the Governor’s office and the state assembly.

Sean P. Murphy
The Boston Globe
“Gaming the System: Public Pensions the Massachusetts Way”

Sean P. Murphy exposed how state officials took advantage of loopholes in the state retirement system to enrich themselves at taxpayers’ expense. The result of his investigations prodded the Massachusetts State Legislature and Governor Deval Patrick to enact and overhaul pension laws. The story also led two ex-legislators to publicly renounce hundreds of thousands of dollars in future pension benefits.

Raquel Rutledge
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Cashing In on Kids”

In her year-long series covering Wisconsin’s child-care program, Raquel Rutledge exposed a system plagued by fraud, deceit and criminal activity which cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and repeatedly put children in danger. Her reporting led to criminal probes and indictments and prompted lawmakers to pass new laws aimed at eliminating fraud and keeping criminals out of the day care business.

Joe Stephens, Lena H. Sun and Lyndsey Layton
The Washington Post
“Death on the Rails”

Reporters from The Washington Post uncovered repeated lapses in safety in Washington’s Metro subway system and a systemic breakdown in safety oversight. As a result of the Post series, the Metro has instituted sweeping reorganization; there has been a congressional demand for reform, and in a historic step, the federal government announced it would move to take over regulation of subways and light rail systems across the nation.

A.C. Thompson, ProPublica and The Nation Institute
In collaboration with: Gordon Russell, Laura Maggi and Brendan McCarthy, The New Orleans Times-Picayune and Tom Jennings, Frontline
“Law and Disorder”

ProPublica’s A.C. Thompson, in collaboration with journalists from The Nation, The New Orleans Times-Picayune and PBS’s Frontline, exposed the existence of white vigilante violence and questions about the New Orleans Police Department’s use of deadly force days after Hurricane Katrina. This series provoked an FBI investigation resulting in a federal grand jury examining police conduct. These hearings are expected to yield indictments.

The judges also decided to award a special citation to the staff of The Seattle Times for its breaking news coverage following the brutal murder of four policemen.

The winner of the 2010 Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism is David Fanning, executive producer of PBS’s Frontline since its debut in 1983. Fanning will give the keynote address at the March 23 presentation of the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.

The annual Goldsmith Awards Program is funded by the Greenfield Foundation.