Washington Post wins 2008 Goldsmith reporting prize

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March 18, 2008, 4:33 pm

Jo Becker of the Washington Post.

Jo Becker of the Washington Post.

March 18, 2008 — The $25,000 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting has been awarded to Barton Gellman and Jo Becker of the Washington Post for their investigative report “Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency” The Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy administers the award.

Gellman and Becker’s four-part series examined the most powerful vice president in history, providing a greater public understanding of the Bush-Cheney era.

“The judges concluded the Cheney story was the most important of 2007,” said Thomas E. Patterson, acting director of the Shorenstein Center. “There were many deserving investigative reporting pieces, but the Cheney piece stood out for its startling revelations and deep investigation.”

Launched in 1991, the Goldsmith Prize honors journalism that 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.

The five finalists for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting were as follows:

Joshua Kors of the Nation for “Thanks for Nothing.” Kors revealed how military doctors are purposely misdiagnosing soldiers wounded in Iraq as having been ill before joining the Army. His investigations resulted in a congressional hearing, bills in the House and Senate, and an added amendment to the Defense Authorization Act.

Walt Bogdanich and Jake Hooker of the New York Times for “A Toxic Pipeline.” Bogdanich and Hooker uncovered what would turn out to be China’s most lethal export: diethylene glycol, an ingredient in antifreeze that was used in medicine and is suspected of killing hundreds around the world. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has halted all imports of Chinese glycerin. China has reversed its position on diethylene glycol.

Tom Dubocq of the Palm Beach Post for “Palm Beach County’s Culture of Corruption.” A two-year investigation by Dubocq exposed Palm Beach County’s worst corruption scandal in nearly a century, prompting federal investigations and leading two county commissioners, a prominent lobbyist, and a governor’s appointee to plead guilty to corruption charges.

Loretta Tofani of the Salt Lake Tribune for “American Imports, Chinese Deaths.” While the harmful effects of products made in China and consumed in America were being uncovered, Chinese factory workers were dying from carcinogens used in making these products. Tofani’s reporting spurred Democratic proposals to require overseas enforcement of worker protections in trade agreements.

Dana Priest and Anne Hull of the Washington Post for “The Other Walter Reed.” Priest and Hull exposed the deep and widespread problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Their reporting resulted in the dismissal of the commander of Walter Reed, the surgeon general of the Army, and the secretary of the Army and an overhaul of the system for treating outpatients in the military health system.

The Goldsmith Book Prize is awarded to the best academic and best trade books that seek to improve the quality of government or politics through an examination of press and politics in the formation of public policy. The prize for best academic book was awarded to John G. Geer for In Defense of Negativity: Attack Ads in Presidential Campaigns.

The best trade book prize, meanwhile, went to Ted Gup for Nation of Secrets: The Threat to Democracy and the American Way of Life.

The Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism was given to Paul E. Steiger, former managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, chairman of the Committee to Protect Journalists, and editor-in-chief of ProPublica, a new nonprofit investigative journalism organization.

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