2020 Award Winners with Judges Comments

NEWSPAPERS, WIRE SERVICES AND DIGITAL NEWS

Newspaper or Digital Beat Reporting

Winner: Christopher Bing and Joel Schectman, Reuters, “Project Raven”

Judges’ Comments: Through exclusive access to cybersecurity insiders and sensitive internal documents, cyber beat reporters Chris Bing and Joel Schectman uncover the murky, hard-to-penetrate underworld of exported state surveillance. Their reporting brought to light a troubling trend that undermines national security from abroad and empowers oppressive world leaders.

Newspaper or Digital Feature Reporting

Winner: Ryan Devereaux, The Intercept, “Bodies in the Borderland”

Judges’ Comments: Superlative storytelling; strong reporting and writing, supported by evocative and industry-leading photography, and elucidated with a video feature. Important topic, a well-balanced story creatively and exhaustively covered.

Newspaper or Digital Spot News Reporting – only two finalists this year

Winner: Ari Feldman, Jordan Kutzik, Helen Chernikoff and Irene Katz-Connelly, The Forward, “Violent Attack Upends Years of Quiet, Happy Growth in Jersey City’s Hasidic Haven”

Judges’ Comments: Very engaging story. Wonderful context and detail. Great storytelling style and beautifully done for a same-day deadline. The coverage made one judge feel like she could envision daily life in the community.

Newspaper or Digital Enterprise Reporting

Winner: Reema Amin, Chalkbeat New York, “Exposed to Lead as a Baby, Bishop Now Struggles in School. Could an Evaluation Used in Flint Help NYC Students Like Him?”

Judges’ Comments: Amin’s story breathed new life into a subject by showing the impacts later in a child’s life and by doggedly pursuing solutions for how those impacts could have been—and could still be—mitigated for children who suffer from the effects of lead exposure. At a time when parents and educators all over the world are dealing with a crisis for which they were wholly unprepared, this story provides a model for addressing a crisis with compassion and commitment to uncovering a path forward.

Newspaper or Digital Local News Reporting

Winner: Brian M. Rosenthal, The New York Times, “Taken for a Ride”

Judges’ Comments: Amazing use of public records; Brian Rosenthal connects the dots thanks to interviews (450!), a database that recorded every medallion sale since 1995 and the painstaking review of thousands of loan documents. Great graphics showing how the price of medallions rose and then crashed. Wow! Truly original reporting!

Reporting by a Newspaper with Circulation Under 100,000

Winner: Andrew Ford, Asbury Park Press, “Policing the Police: Exposing Deadly Chases, Lying Cops and Gender Discrimination in New Jersey Law Enforcement”

Judges’ Comments: Policing the Police is an example of what we all aspire to as journalists: unrelenting reporting, follow-through and smart collaboration. All of these factors created a series of important, personal stories of systematic failures—the recipe for true impact. The judges especially want to recognize the Asbury Park Press’ collaboration with The College of New Jersey for pieces this series.

Reporting by Independent Digital Media

Winner: Anna Belle Peevey, Neela Banerjee and Adrian Briscoe, InsideClimate News, “American Climate”

Judges’ Comments: Everybody reports disaster stories, but InsideClimate News went beyond the death and destruction to starkly show readers how a California wildfire, a Gulf Coast hurricane and Midwestern flooding were connected. Enhanced with videos and graphics, “The Shared Experience of Disaster,” paints a multi-faceted picture of the effects of climate change on the planet, making it all the more real with powerful testimony from survivors.

 

MAGAZINES

Magazine Personal Service

Winner: Esmé Deprez, Bloomberg Businessweek, “Sun Burned”

Judges’ Comments: Bloomberg Businessweek’s “Sun Burned: What Happened When I Bought a House with Solar Panels” by Esmé E. Deprez is gracefully written and thoroughly researched. The writer unravels a complex financial puzzle in a way that makes it understandable, compelling, and timely in light of a new California mandate affecting millions of homes, and gives her personal story an evergreen universality in this era of climate change.

Magazine Profile

Winner: Jamie Ducharme, TIME, “The Face of Change”

Judges’ Comments: “Face of Change” presents the compelling portrait of Robert Chelsea, the first African American to receive a full-face transplant. Jamie Ducharme combines thorough reporting with a keen eye for detail and economical but wonderfully evocative writing, providing a vivid, skillfully rendered profile. The story balances an engaging narrative with a well-supported discussion of longstanding disparities in medical care. It opens a unique and revealing window on the push for racial equality in all aspects of contemporary American life.

Magazine Investigative Reporting

Winner: Rachel Rabkin Peachman, Joel Keehn, Jen Shecter, Margot Gilman and Andy Bergmann, Consumer Reports, “The Rise and Fall of Inclined Sleepers”

Judges’ Comments: Consumer Reports’ groundbreaking investigation brought to light how a product that parents trusted to keep babies safely sleeping was actually responsible for at least 70 deaths and more than 1,000 incidents and injuries. It reflects the best of investigative journalism, with clear, concise and sensitive reporting; in-depth research; and a dedication to publishing findings despite legal challenges.

Magazine Feature Reporting

Winner: Emily Raboteau, The New York Review of Books, “Climate Signs”

Judges’ Comments: Though the entire category consisted of many strong entries, this particular feature was a unique standout. The author provides a compelling view into the anxieties and fears about the future that will be left behind to generations beyond our own portrayed through a journey of re-discovery of the bonds that connect us to each other as humans and to the surroundings which we inhabit but take for granted in the daily grind of life. Particularly, in these troubled times, the fear and anxiety expressed by the author over the impact that natural and biologic forces far beyond our control are only intensified by society’s indifference and inaction in mitigation efforts.

 

SPECIALIZED WRITING

Arts Reporting

Winner: Peter Maass, The Intercept, “A Prize for Lies”

Judges’ Comments: The Intercept’s series on Peter Handke’s Nobel Prize win was both an investigative achievement and an instructional explainer on a confusing and complicated controversy. The stories reveal the moral failures and cracked judgment of the Nobel judging process. The reporter also enhanced the stories with his firsthand experiences of covering the conflict in Bosnia.

Sports Reporting

Winner: Baxter Holmes, ESPN.com, “’These Kids Are Ticking Time Bombs’: The Threat of Youth Basketball”

Judges’ Comments: This story is comprehensive, well researched and told from multiple perspectives.  It tackles a big issue through the lives of participants at every level, whether they are famous or not. It brings us the human side of the sport, not just what’s seen on highlight reels, with great interviews and reporting.

Business Feature

Winner: Erika Fry, Fortune, “Epidemic of Fear”

Judges’ Comments: A deep dive into how corporate and public policy missteps and anti-vax paranoia sank an effort at a Dengue Fever vaccine. Its lessons have new relevance as the world races to find a vaccine for COVID-19.

Business Investigative Reporting

Winner: Katherine Blunt, Russell Gold and Rebecca Smith, The Wall Street Journal, “How PG&E Burned California”

Judges’ Comments: Strong look at corporate failings that lead to widespread public health and safety issues and death. Well documented, thoroughly reported and cleanly written. Investigative journalism at its best holds the powerful accountable. This look at a public utility impacting hundreds of thousands of residents fits the bill.

Science, Technology, Medical or Environmental Reporting

Winner: Caroline Chen, ProPublica, “Heartless Hospital”

Judges’ Comments: The Implant Files: ProPublica reporter Caroline Chen’s investigative reporting exposes how well-intended federal rules based on one-year organ transplant survival rates can create perverse incentives in this haunting series weaving in vivid details about patients and their families. Facing local outrage after exposing failings in an important New Jersey hospital’s beloved transplant center, Chen’s reportage helped some families recover from “very unethical” treatment at the worst moments of their lives, while sparking multiple state and federal investigations leading to an ongoing hospital plan of correction.

Opinion Writing

Winner: Stuart A. Thompson, Charlie Warzel and Alex Kingsbury, The New York Times, “One Nation, Tracked”

 

Judges’ Comments: In revealing how the location tracking industry monitors and memorizes our every movement, The New York Times convincingly shows the risks of our reliance upon mobile devices and the need for tougher privacy protection regulations. A masterly effort combining the best of investigative and opinion journalism, skillfully presented online and in print.

 

PHOTOGRAPHY

Spot News Photo

Winner: Matthew Abbott, The New York Times, “Wildfire”

Judges’ Comments: Up close and personal, photographer Matthew Abbott literally and figuratively captures the intensity of the catastrophic bush fires that devastated Lake Conjola, Australia in 2019. The moment is impeccably preserved in color, composition and movement: we feel the desperation, the urgency and the anxiety not only of the kangaroo but of an entire nation and the world.

Sports Photo

Winner: J. Conrad Williams, Newsday, “Head Over Heels”

Judges’ Comments: This photo takes the viewer into a real and unique moment of competition. The angles are exceptional as are the facial expressions. The photo captures the, literally, gripping and physical nature of high school wrestling and the unexpected turn of competition as athletes battle to win.

Feature Photo

Winner: James Nachtwey, TIME, “Rohingya”

Judges’ Comments: Raise awareness. That’s what powerful photography can do. These images take us to a place most of us can’t visit, revealing Rohingya Muslims who are trying to cobble together a life as they are exiled to Bangladesh. This courageous photographer risked his well-being and safety to tell the world an important story.

 

DIGITAL AND INTERACTIVE MEDIA

Multimedia, Interactive Graphics and Animation

Winner: Cynthia McFadden, Christine Romo, Lisa Cavazuti, Rich Schapiro, Anna Brand, Jiachuan Wu and Robin Muccari, NBC News, “‘Zone Rouge’: An Army of Children Toils in African Mines”

Judges’ Comments: NBC’s investigation into the shocking abuse of children mining for a rare mineral essential for electronic devices is a testament to what journalism should do: inform, show the truth, hold the powerful accountable and evoke change. This project used exceptional visual story-telling through never-before-seen video, photographs, aerial images, graphics, maps and audio packaged together in a stunning presentation. This reporting has led to senators, organizations and companies coming forward to enact changes against these horrific conditions. This report will help thousands of children live a better life. Extraordinary work.

Digital Innovation

Winner: Staff, Newsday, “Long Island Divided”

Judges’ Comments: “Long Island Divided” pries behind the smiling façade of the real estate brokerage industry to expose how racial inequality pervades the housing market. Over the course of three years, the journalists conducted an extensive undercover operation, outfitting actors with hidden cameras, to reveal the subtle, daily injustices that directly contribute to residential segregation in America. Masterfully presented with a mix of interactive data visualizations, moving video testimonials, and responsive UI, this ambitious undertaking exemplifies how best to combine digital innovation with hard-nosed reporting to shine a light on a predicament that otherwise escapes scrutiny.

RADIO AND AUDIO

Winner: News Team, WCBS-AM, “The Jersey City Shooting”

Judges’ Comments: WCBS impressed the judges with strong local audio reporting and live coverage. Reporters took care to state the facts, and keep listeners informed during every step of this shooting. The addition of field audio helped this reporting rise above.

Radio or Audio Feature Reporting

Winner: Harry Siegel, Christina Greer and Alexandria Lynn, FAQ NYC, “Talking About Pictures”

Judges’ Comments: If a picture is worth one-thousand words then, TALKING ABOUT PICTURES certainly deserves the top prize. We loved listening to every minute of Susan Watts talk about her “gritty and grimy” and even sometimes, scary New York photo assignments for The Daily News. From John Gotti to Gloria the Bronx prostitute and drug addict, Susan really captured New York in pictures and every one of her pictures tells a great New York story.

Radio or Audio Investigative Reporting

Winner: Seth Freed Wessler and Alissa Escarce, Mother Jones, Latino USA and Type Investigations, “Marshals’ Lawlessness”

Judges’ Comments: This yearlong investigation into the detention system run by the U.S. Marshals exemplified everything that matters about investigative journalism. It put a human face to this little-known type of death in custody. The production quality and craft were stunning.

 

DIGITAL VIDEO

Digital Video Reporting

Winner: Paul Moakley and Moises Saman, TIME, “When the News Hits Home”

Judges’ Comments: This powerful piece takes you inside the newsroom of the Capital Gazette in Maryland, and dramatically explores the impact the deadly 2018 shooting in their office had on those who survived.

 

TELEVISION

National Television Feature

Winner: Lee Cowan, Sari Aviv, Remington Korper and Rand Morrison, CBS Sunday Morning, “Critical Condition”

Judges’ Comments: CBS Sunday Morning’s report “Critical Condition” exposes a critical issue facing rural America: hospitals are closing, leaving millions of Americans with no access to medical care. Cowan uncovers the devastating consequences for patients and health care providers with masterful storytelling and in-depth reporting, and he illuminates innovative approaches some are taking to survive.

National Television Series or Investigative Reporting

Winner: Cynthia McFadden, Christine Romo, Lisa Cavazuti and Bill Angelucci, NBC News, “‘Zone Rouge’: An Army of Children Toils in African Mines”

Judges’ Comments: Cynthia McFadden and her production team at NBC News masterfully report on young children who are digging for mica in Madagascar to provide this “magic mineral” to electronics industries around the world and ultimately to the United States, yet as they earn billions of dollars in profits, the children are struggling to survive. McFadden’s story exemplifies excellence in journalism.

National Television Spot News Reporting

Winner: Patrick Oppmann and Jake Tapper, CNN: The Lead with Jake Tapper, “Hurricane Dorian Devastates The Bahamas”

Judges’ Comments: Hurricane coverage on television can often come across as cliché. But this coverage is a model for how to do it right. CNN covers the storm from all angles and provides solid documentation of the devastation. The on-scene reporting is non-sensational, and the coverage is compassionate. Nicely done!

Local Television Feature

Winner: Staff, Spectrum News NY1, “Street Level: Victory Boulevard”

Judges’ Comments: Beautiful visuals, fascinating story, great characters. So well written and edited. Makes me want to go there immediately, visit the museum and find a restaurant! Bravo!

Local Television Series or Investigative Reporting

Winner: Karin Attonito, Anthony Cocco and Walt Kane, News 12 New Jersey, “Kane In Your Corner: Bullied in School”

Judges’ Comments: Kane dives deep into a topic that is affecting many of our children. This is a piece of prime investigative reporting showing how New Jersey leads the nation in bullying and attempts to combat the problem are all smoke and mirrors. Through interviews with a variety of experts and sifting through legal documents to show how this problem is being ignored, he confronts officials and brings the story home through his sympathetic treatment of victims.

Local Television Spot News Reporting

Winner: Amy Morris, Steven Bognar, Adam Kuperstein, Eddie Alonzo and Jonathan Dienst, WNBC, “Jersey City Shootout”

Judges’ Comments: The WNBC News team confronted a harrowing situation with on-scene reporting that was highly informative and non-sensational. Their coverage provided solid context, bringing in strong expert insight. This team of reporters also conducted “person on the street” interviews with meaning. We too often hear “POS” that lacks this kind of substance.

 

MARQUEE AWARDS

Daniel Pearl Prize for Investigative Reporting

Winner: Staff, The Wall Street Journal, “How Amazon Puts Us at Risk”

Judges’ Comments: The Wall Street Journal’s “How Amazon Puts Us at Risk” documented in detail how the nation’s largest internet marketplace failed to protect its users from unsafe products. The Journal’s investigative team’s research extended even to dumpster diving for trash and garbage to offer for sale. The series prompted Amazon to adopt policies to ban items ranging from dangerous toys to garments produced under unsafe conditions in Bangladesh.

The Mosaic

Winner: Staff, ABC News Nightline, “Am I Next?”

Judges’ Comments: Nightline’s riveting series stood out to Deadline Club judges, who unanimously selected the series for this year’s Mosaic Award. The judging committee especially appreciated the time, effort, and vulnerability required of these reporters in order to earn their sources’ trust, and how sensitive these reporters were to their sources’ concerns, including young trans women of color who feared for their lives after seeing their friends murdered. This package is a significant contribution toward greater awareness of the grave dangers faced by LGBTQ communities here and abroad, from America’s epidemic of violence against trans women of color to the experiences of LGBTQ Chechens trying to live in a repressive police state where gay men have been subjected to beatings, electrocution and torture.

The Les Payne Award for Coverage on Communities of Color

Winner: Sarah Ryley, Jeremy Singer-Vine and Sean Campbell, The Trace and BuzzFeed News, “Free to Shoot Again”

Judges’ Comments: The Trace and Buzzfeed News captured the essence of the Les Payne Award through their use of data, investigative reporting and poignant interviews to reveal racial disparities in shooting suspect arrests, ultimately leading to change in Baltimore’s police investigative practices and to the freedom of one man upon retrial.

Public Service Award

Winner: Staff, Newsday, “Long Island Divided”

Judges’ Comments: Newsday’s three-year, hidden-camera investigation “Long Island Divided” delivered devastating proof of the kind of pernicious discrimination that goes on when people think no one is watching. Rather than just tell, it actually showed us the widespread differences in how Long Island real estate agents treated whites and minorities—most frequently African-Americans—steering them to entirely different communities and reinforcing one of the most segregated suburban regions in the country. Newsday’s findings got national attention and generated federal and state action almost immediately, showing the power a newspaper can have when it makes an extraordinary commitment to uncover a form of bias many had long suspected but felt was impossible to prove.