2019 Goldsmith Prize Finalists

Shorenstein Center Announces Seven Finalists for 2019 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting; Marty Baron to Receive Career Award

Finalists include: Alabama Media Group; The Dallas Morning News; The Investigative Reporting Program (IRP) at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism with FRONTLINE; The Philadelphia Inquirer; ProPublica; The South Bend Tribune with ProPublica; and The Wall Street Journal

Cambridge, MA — Seven reporting teams have been selected as finalists for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. The winner of the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting will be announced at an awards ceremony on March 12, 2019 at the Kennedy School’s JFK Jr. Forum. Additionally, Marty Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post, will receive the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism.

The Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, which carries a $10,000 award for finalists and $25,000 for the winner, recognizes and celebrates journalism that promotes more effective and ethical conduct of government, the making of public policy, or the practice of politics. The Goldsmith Career Award is given for outstanding contributions to the field of journalism, and for work that has enriched political discourse. Past recipients of the Career Award include Gwen Ifill, Nicholas Kristof, Jorge Ramos, Martha Raddatz, Walter Isaacson and Andrea Mitchell.

“We received a record high number of submissions for this year’s Goldsmith Prize, showing the sheer breadth of exceptional investigative journalism being published despite challenging economic conditions for the news industry,” said Shorenstein Center Director Nicco Mele. “The judging committee had the extremely difficult task of picking just seven finalists for the prize. Our finalists demonstrate the critical role of the press in our democracy, from holding the highest levels of federal government accountable and directly impacting national policy, to uncovering abuses of power in small towns and communities and making an enormous tangible difference to people’s everyday lives.”

The seven finalists for the 2019 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting are:

Alabama Media Group
Connor Sheets
Alabama’s ‘Beach House Sheriff’
This investigation revealed extensive wrongdoing by an Alabama sheriff, including improper use of millions of dollars’ worth of public funds, and the mistreatment of inmates in the county jail he runs. Amid threats to his family’s personal safety, reporter Connor Sheets uncovered a history of misconduct that resulted in the ‘Beach House Sheriff’ losing his reelection bid, the launch of investigations into his conduct at the federal, state and local level, and proposed legislation to prevent Alabama sheriffs from pocketing public funds for personal enrichment.

The Dallas Morning News
J. David McSwane and Andrew Chavez
Pain and Profit
The Dallas Morning News found that thousands of sick and disabled Texans were being denied life-sustaining drugs and treatments by the private health insurance companies hired by the state to manage their care. While these private contractors made billions of dollars from the corporate management of taxpayer-funded Medicaid, some of the most vulnerable Texans were denied critical services, equipment and treatments, often with profoundly life-altering results. As a result of the investigation the Texas legislature pledged millions of dollars to more closely regulate the system, monitor instances of denials of care, and reform the appeals process.

The Investigative Reporting Program (IRP) at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and FRONTLINE, PBS
Daffodil Altan, Andrés Cediel, Abbie VanSickle
Trafficked in America
This investigation explored labor trafficking happening today on U.S. soil. Reporters told the story of unaccompanied minors from Central America who were forced to work against their will at an Ohio egg farm, the criminal network that exploited them, the companies that profited, and how U.S. government policies and practices helped to deliver some of the children directly to their traffickers. The investigation uncovered widespread criminal abuse, and will be used as a Department of Justice Anti-Human Trafficking training tool for thousands of law enforcement officials and prosecutors.

The Philadelphia Inquirer
Barbara Laker, Wendy Ruderman, Dylan Purcell, Jessica Griffin, Garland Potts
Toxic City: Sick Schools
The Philadelphia Inquirer revealed unsafe conditions in Philadelphia’s rundown public schools, with children forced to learn in buildings rife with mold, asbestos and flaking and peeling lead paint. By scouring maintenance logs and conducting scientific testing inside 19 elementary schools, and engaging teachers and parents in their reporting, the Inquirer built a comprehensive database of the shocking conditions putting children at risk on a daily basis. The investigation prompted the state and school district to direct millions of dollars to emergency cleanup of lead paint and asbestos fibers in schools, the total demolition and planned replacement of one school with particularly deplorable conditions, and a new law protecting children from lead paint and other serious health hazards in public schools.

Ginger Thompson, Michael Grabell, Topher Sanders, Melissa Sanchez, Duaa Eldeib, Jodi S. Cohen, Alex Mierjeski, Claire Perlman, Ken Schwencke, Adriana Gallardo, and ProPublica staff
Zero Tolerance
ProPublica obtained and published a secret recording from inside a border patrol detention center that captured the sounds of children, recently separated from their families at the Mexican border, sobbing and begging for their parents. The audio clip was played on the floors of Congress, sparking widespread condemnation and having an almost immediate impact, with President Trump signing an executive order to end the family separation policy within 48 hours of its publication. ProPublica reporters then dug deeper into conditions at the detention centers, detailing abuse and assaults on immigrant children, directly countering the administration’s claims that the shelters were safe havens.

South Bend Tribune and ProPublica
Christian Sheckler, Ken Armstrong
Criminal Justice in Elkhart, Indiana
Reporting from the South Bend Tribune and ProPublica revealed deep flaws and abuses of power in the criminal justice system in Elkhart, Indiana – from new revelations in the wrongful convictions of two men, to the promotions of police supervisors with serious disciplinary records, to the mishandling of police misconduct cases. The investigation led to the resignation of the police chief, criminal charges against two officers and plans for an independent investigation of the department, demonstrating the strong, immediate impact that investigative journalism can have at the local level – and its ability to force critical changes in communities.

The Wall Street Journal
Michael Rothfeld, Joe Palazzolo, Nicole Hong, Rebecca Davis O’Brien, Rebecca Ballhaus, Alexandra Berzon, Lukas I. Alpert, Michael Siconolfi, Carmel Lobello, Shelby Holliday, Jarrard Cole, Anthony Galloway, Joel Eastwood
Trump’s Hush Money
The Wall Street Journal uncovered evidence that Donald Trump personally orchestrated a criminal scheme to suppress damaging sexual allegations, despite denials by the president. The revelations implicated Trump in a felony, triggered criminal and congressional investigations and amplified calls for his impeachment. Journal reporters revealed secret payoffs made during the 2016 presidential campaign by Trump and his associates to two women who both alleged they had affairs with the then-candidate. The coverage sparked a federal criminal investigation into campaign-finance abuses that will soon land the president’s longtime lawyer in prison, and broke open Washington’s most consequential and far-reaching scandal of the year.


The Goldsmith Investigative Reporting Prize judges were Michael Duffy, deputy op-ed editor, The Washington Post and 1998 Goldsmith Prize winner; Nancy Gibbs, former editor of TIME Magazine and current Edward R. Murrow Professor of Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School; Erica Green, education and education policy correspondent for The New York Times; Mike Greenfield, Trustee of the Greenfield Foundation (financial supporters of the Goldsmith Awards Program); Esther Htusan, correspondent for the Associated Press and 2016 Goldsmith Prize winner; Nina Martin, reporter for ProPublica and 2018 Goldsmith Prize winner; Melissa Segura, investigative reporter for BuzzFeed News and 2018 Goldsmith Prize finalist; Scott Siegler, managing partner of Mediasiegler, Inc. and former president of Sony Pictures Television; and Tim Bailey, director of programming at the Shorenstein Center. Nicco Mele, director of the Shorenstein Center, chaired the meeting. Judges recused themselves from voting on entries from their employers.

The Goldsmith Prizes are funded by an annual gift from the Goldsmith Fund of the Greenfield Foundation.

About Marty Baron
Martin “Marty” Baron began his career in journalism in 1976 as a state reporter for the Miami Herald, and has been the executive editor of the Washington Post since 2013. In between he held senior editing positions at the Boston Globe, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Miami Herald. Under his leadership the Boston Globe won the 2003 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting and the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for the investigation into clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church that was later portrayed in the Oscar-winning film “Spotlight”. Baron and newsrooms under his leadership have been finalists or winners for many journalism awards over the years, including numerous Goldsmith and Pulitzer Prizes, in honor of their significant contributions to journalism, civic discourse, and public policy debates in the United States and around the world.


The Goldsmith Awards Ceremony
The ceremony will include the presentation of the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, the Goldsmith Book Prizes, and the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism, followed by a keynote conversation with Career Award winner Marty Baron. The ceremony will be preceded by a panel discussion, from 3:30-5:00 p.m., in which finalists will discuss the reporting behind the stories.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019, 6:00 p.m.
Goldsmith Awards Ceremony
John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum, Harvard Kennedy School
79 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA
Open to the public. The ceremony will also be streamed online.


Media Contact:
Liz Schwartz: 617-495-2233, liz_schwartz@hks.harvard.edu
Communications Director, Shorenstein Center