Announcing the 2024 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting Finalists

The Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School is proud to announce the six finalists for the 2024 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting. The Goldsmith Prize, first awarded in 1993 and funded by a gift from the Greenfield Foundation, honors the best public service investigative journalism that has made an impact on local, state, or federal public policy or the practice of politics in the United States. Finalists receive $10,000, and the winner – to be announced at the April 3 ceremony – receives $25,000. All prize monies go to the journalist or team that produced the reporting.  

“This year’s finalists went to extraordinary lengths to uncover the truth – mixing classic shoe-leather journalism with the kind of shrewd and scrappy reporting that inspires new generations to enter the field and seasoned reporters to stick with it,” said Nancy Gibbs, Director of the Shorenstein Center. “In a time of great uncertainty, these finalists remind us of journalism’s vital role in our democracy.” 

The 2024 Goldsmith Prize winner will be announced at the awards ceremony, to be held April 3, 2024, at the JFK Jr. Forum at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. The in-person ceremony will be livestreamed at and 

2024 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting Finalists

Alone and Exploited

The New York Times | Hannah Dreier

Reporter Hannah Dreier’s investigation into the wide resurgence of child labor in the United States began with a simple question: As more unaccompanied migrant children began crossing the border than ever before, where were they all going? In this 20-month long investigation, Dreier uncovered a culture of careless disregard for child labor laws at construction sites, slaughterhouses and in factories across the country and a “chain of willful ignorance” at every point in the system meant to protect children from exploitation. Dreier earned the trust of hundreds of migrant children, federal contractors, investigators and auditors, government social workers, and sources at the highest levels of the White House and federal agencies to bring the truth to light. The impact of her investigation was swift and prompted immediate reforms across state and federal agencies as well as dozens of major corporations and brands. Read the reporting.

Denied by AI: How big insurers use algorithms to cut off care for Medicare Advantage patients

STAT | Casey Ross, Bob Herman

Following a tip from an employee at a small nursing home, STAT reporters Casey Ross and Bob Herman relied on internal sources, confidential company documents, and court records to reveal how UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest health insurer, was inappropriately using predictions from a flawed computer algorithm to deny care to seriously ill patients. Reducing older adults and people with disabilities to numbers, insurers used the predictions to deny or prematurely cut off rehab care of sick and injured Medicare Advantage beneficiaries and maximize the company’s profits. The publication of this four-part investigative series prompted federal regulators to issue new rules and launch their own investigations and triggered at least two class-action lawsuits. Read the reporting.

Friends of the Court
ProPublica | Justin Elliott, Joshua Kaplan, Brett Murphy, Alex Mierjeski, Kirsten Berg, ProPublica Staff

While there has been plenty of press coverage of the Supreme Court’s landmark court decisions over the years, the Justices themselves have long evaded the kind of public scrutiny endured by elected officials and other public servants. Seeking to shed light on one of the most opaque branches of government, this reporting team used a series of unconventional reporting techniques – cross-referencing highly redacted records from U.S. Marshals with flight data, hunting down fishing licenses, private yacht schedules, photos on social media and interviews with hundreds of people around the world – to reveal a system that enables judges to thwart ethical oversight and conceal conflicts of interest as they rule on the country’s most consequential legal cases. Their reporting prompted investigations by the Senate Judiciary and Finance committees and led to the Supreme Court’s adoption of a code of conduct for the first time in its history. Read the reporting.

Ghost Tags: Inside New York City’s Black Market for Temporary License Plates

Streetsblog | Jesse Coburn

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, reporter Jesse Coburn noticed a strange trend: cars with out-of-state temporary paper license plates seemed to be all over New York City. Coburn filed public records requests in New Jersey and Georgia – two states that were especially prevalent among the temporary plates in New York – and discovered that fraudsters were taking advantage of lax regulations in these states and issuing tens of thousands of temporary tags from dealerships with no other apparent business activity. Motorists in NYC used the fraudulent tags for anonymity while dodging tolls, driving without insurance, and committing serious and violent crimes. Following the publication of “Ghost Tags,” lawmakers in New Jersey passed a law reforming the state’s temporary tag system, and elected officials in Georgia and New York City also introduced legislation on the issue. Read the reporting.

Unfettered Power: Mississippi Sheriffs

Mississippi Today and The New York Times | Ilyssa Daly, Brian Howey, Nate Rosenfield, and Jerry Mitchell

In the summer of 2022, Mississippi Today reporter Jerry Mitchell was alarmed by how often sheriffs accused of committing serious crimes managed to evade any consequences and remain in office. Mitchell and reporter Ilyssa Daly began investigating the state’s sheriffs and soon found themselves inundated with corruption allegations and harrowing tales of torture and violence from victims and witnesses across the state. Joining forces with the New York Times, the team obtained records logged from officers’ Tasers (the preferred torture device of the deputies, according to victims) and matched the logs with other departmental records to determine which device was assigned to each deputy. This allowed them to corroborate the victims’ accounts and identify additional victims. Their series of reports led to the federal indictment of one former sheriff and “lit a fire under federal authorities,” with the FBI requesting the reporters’ help in reaching the victims and witnesses for interviews.

This project was in part supported by Big Local News at Stanford University and the Pulitzer Center. Read the reporting.

With Every Breath: Millions of Breathing Machines. One Dangerous Defect.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and ProPublica | Michael D. Sallah, Debbie Cenziper, Michael Korsh, Evan Robinson-Johnson, Monica Sager, Margaret Fleming and the Medill Investigative Lab at Northwestern University

After months of sorting through thousands of complaints submitted to the FDA, reporters revealed that Philips Respironics kept millions of dangerous breathing machines – used by COVID-19 patients, infants, the elderly, and veterans – on the market, despite warnings from their own experts that the devices posed serious health risks. The investigation also revealed that the FDA had received warnings about contaminants in the machines for years but repeatedly failed to warn the public. Their reporting prompted the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to launch an investigation of the FDA’s oversight of medical devices for the first time in a decade and led to calls by influential members of Congress for the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into Philips Respironics. Read the reporting.

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