2020 Goldsmith Prize Finalists

Update March 16, 2020: We are looking forward announcing the winner of this year’s Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting via video on March 23rd, and hope you will celebrate along with us, the winner, and the finalists via social media. Stay tuned!

Update March 9, 2020: Due to precautions around the coronavirus outbreak, the 2020 Goldsmith Awards Ceremony has been canceled. Stay tuned for a virtual recognition of the finalists, and announcement of this year’s winner, coming soon.

The Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School Announces Six Finalists for the 2020 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting; Kathleen Carroll, former AP Executive Editor, to Receive Career Award

Six investigative 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 12th, 2020 at the Kennedy School’s JFK Jr. Forum. Also at the awards ceremony, Kathleen Carroll, former Executive Editor of the Associated Press and current Board Chair of the Committee to Protect Journalists, will receive the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism.

The Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting recognizes and celebrates journalism that promotes more effective and ethical conduct of government, the making of public policy, or the practice of politics. Finalists receive a $10,000 prize and the winner, to be announced at the ceremony, receives $25,000. The Goldsmith Prize is made possible through a generous gift from the Greenfield Foundation.

In looking at the over 175 investigative reporting projects nominated for the prize this year, Shorenstein Center Director Nancy Gibbs noted, “The sheer range of entries was so impressive, from small newsrooms in rural areas to major national organizations. And even more, the enterprise and energy reflected in the work speaks to the critical role investigative reporting plays in our democracy right now.”

The six finalists for the 2020 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting are:

Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica
Kyle Hopkins
A first-of-its-kind investigation, by the Anchorage Daily News in partnership with ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network, uncovered major gaps in law enforcement that placed residents at risk. Their reporting found that one in three Alaska communities have no local police of any kind, the state of Alaska has failed to enforce police hiring requirements and some villages routinely hire criminals as cops, and state Troopers are patrolling suburban areas at the expense of hard-to-reach villages. As a result of this reporting, the Department of Justice declared a national emergency and has promised more than $52 million in federal funding for public safety in Alaska villages.

The Arizona Republic, USA TODAY, and the Center for Public Integrity
The staffs of The Arizona Republic, USA TODAY, and the Center for Public Integrity
Copy. Paste. Legislate.
The Arizona Republic, USA TODAY, and the Center for Public Integrity, conducted unprecedented computer analysis of legislation in all 50 states to reveal the nation’s largest unreported special-interest political campaign: 10,000 bills that were copied nearly word-for-word from text written by industry groups, lobbyists and political activists, often to benefit big business at consumers’ expense. Two tools built as part of the project are helping citizens and local reporters track these copycat bills in their own communities.

Kaiser Health News
Christina Jewett
Hidden Harm
Kaiser Health News revealed that, for nearly 20 years, the FDA struck deals with medical device makers to keep millions of malfunction and injury reports out of a trusted public database relied upon by doctors, researchers, and patients for information about injuries, deaths or malfunctions linked to breast implants, surgical mesh, artificial knees and hundreds of other medical products. Instead, the FDA allowed companies to submit these reports to an internal database so obscure that it was unknown to safety experts, doctors, and even a recent FDA commissioner. As a result of this reporting, the FDA published its entire hidden database online in June 2019, revealing 5.7 million device-related injuries or malfunctions for the first time.

NBC News
Suzy Khimm, Laura Strickler
Silent killer: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Public Housing
This NBC News investigation revealed that carbon monoxide detectors are not required in any of 4.6 million homes that receive federal rental subsidies from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, despite HUD’s legal mandate to ensure these properties are “decent, safe and sanitary.” The investigation uncovered that at least 13 HUD residents have died from CO poisoning since 2003. Less than two weeks after the investigation was published, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives introduced bills requiring CO detectors in public housing. In September 2019, the House passed a bill requiring detectors and $300 million in funding to install them, citing NBC News’ reporting. The bill is currently working its way through the Senate, with strong support from the Trump administration.

The Oregonian/OregonLive
Shane Dixon Kavanaugh
Fleeing Justice
In October 2018, federal law enforcement agents in Oregon suspected the Saudi Arabian government had helped one of its citizens, a young college student studying in Portland, flee the United States weeks before his trial in the hit-and-run death of a teenage girl. Based on a tip about this case, a reporter for The Oregonian newspaper uncovered a pattern of similar cases around the country, some dating back decades. In response, Oregon’s senior Senator introduced a bill that forces U.S. intelligence officials to disclose what they know about the Saudi Arabian government’s suspected role in spiriting its citizens out of the United States to escape criminal prosecution. The bill was signed into law in December, 2019.

The Washington Post
Craig Whitlock
The Afghanistan Papers/A Secret History of the War
The Washington Post obtained and reported on a confidential trove of interviews conducted by the federal government with more than 400 people who played a direct role in the war in Afghanistan. The more than 2,000 pages of documents, pried loose after a three-year public records battle, reveal that presidents, generals and diplomats have misled the public about the conflict for nearly two decades. After publication, the story drew major attention from world leaders, U.S. presidential candidates, the Pentagon, military veterans, and the media. Congress has held several hearings to review the Afghanistan Papers and question federal officials about their handling of the war, with some legislators calling for the U.S. to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan.

The 2020 Goldsmith Investigative Reporting Prize judges were:

  • Daffodil Altan, investigative producer and correspondent, PBS FRONTLINE; former producer at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism’s Investigative Reporting Program; 2019 Goldsmith Prize finalist for “Trafficked in America.”
  • Scott Berinato, senior editor at Harvard Business Review; author of Good Charts: The HBR Guide to Making Smarter, More Persuasive Data Visualizations.
  • Sarah Cohen, Knight Chair in Data Journalism, Cronkite School, Arizona State University; winner of the 2009 Goldsmith Prize for “Forced Out,” and 2006 Goldsmith Prize finalist for “Harvesting Cash.”
  • Michael Duffy, opinions editor at large, Washington Post; former deputy managing editor of TIME Magazine; winner of the 1998 Goldsmith Prize for “Abuse of Campaign Finance Laws”
  • Mike Greenfield, Trustee of the Greenfield Foundation (financial supporters of the Goldsmith Awards Program); Co-Founder and CEO of Change Research
  • Priscilla Painton, Vice President and Executive Editor, Simon & Schuster; former deputy managing editor, TIME Magazine.
  • Sacha Pfeiffer, correspondent for NPR’s Investigations team, former investigative reporter for The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team; winner of the 2003 Goldsmith Prize for “Crisis in the Catholic Church.”
  • Todd Wallack, data journalist and investigative reporter for The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team; Nieman-Berkman Klein fellow in Journalism Innovation; 2015 Goldsmith Prize finalist for “Shadow Campus.”
  • Setti Warren, Executive Director of the Shorenstein Center; former Mayor of Newton, MA.

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

About Kathleen Carroll and the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism

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, Andrea Mitchell, and Marty Baron.

Kathleen Carroll was Executive Editor and Senior Vice President of the Associated Press from 2002 through 2016, where she was responsible for coverage from journalists in more than 100 countries, including groundbreaking new bureaus in North Korea and Myanmar. Under her leadership, AP journalists won numerous awards, among them five Pulitzer Prizes – including the 2016 Pulitzer for Public Service – six George Polk Awards, and 15 Overseas Press Club Awards. She is currently Chair of the Board of Directors of the Committee to Protect Journalists, where she has served on the board since 2008. Carroll first joined the AP’s Dallas bureau in 1978, and was also a writer or editor for the AP in New Jersey, California and Washington. Previously, Carroll led the Knight Ridder Washington bureau, was an editor at the International Herald Tribune and at the San Jose Mercury News, and a reporter at the The Dallas Morning News in her hometown. She currently serves on the board of the weekly Montclair Local newspaper and served on the board of the Pulitzer Prizes from 2003-2012, the last year as co-chair.

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, and a keynote conversation with Career Award winner Kathleen Carroll and Shorenstein Center Director Nancy Gibbs. 

Goldsmith Awards Ceremony
Thursday, March 12, 2020, 6:00 p.m.
John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum, Harvard Kennedy School
79 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA
Open to the public. The ceremony will also be streamed online.