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Award for “Big Oil: Bad Air”

On the awards front, the Environment team led by Jim Morris, scored big with the Knight-Risser Award for Western Environmental Journalism awarded by Stanford University. The winning entry was the “Big Oil: Bad Air” project which dealt with the hitherto unreported local health consequences of the U.S fracking boom.

It’s a multi-award-winning project with Inside Climate News and The Weather Channel.

“Judges praised Big Oil, Bad Air as a thorough examination of a particularly complex subject – toxic air emissions from oil and gas production. They felt its extensive multimedia presentation made it accessible and of interest to audiences on multiple fronts. And it showed the power of media collaborations on such important topics,” the citation read.

As always, awards are an important industry recognition and I hope give our donors evidence that our peers respect the work of this relatively small organization which punches far above its weight in these competitions.

Impact through others

We also welcome recognition from industry heavyweights like the Washington Post and New York Times when their editorialists in particular note our agenda-setting work. In that spirit New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan has twice noted Center work in RECENT op-eds, one noting the epic State Integrity project and the work of our reporter Nick Kusnetz [in a piece in the Washington Post] in exposing corruption at the state level. Margaret’s second piece also called out the Center but was more of a PLEA for the business of investigative reporting.

Spotlight may be the best disinfectant

Much of the recent interest in investigative reporting has been prompted by the movie Spotlight, the remarkable story of the Boston Globe investigation into pedophile priests. I saw it at a premiere in Washington run by Diana Schemo of which has created a Washington investigative film festival. It’s a powerful film and a good watch which may give even the most hard-bitten journalist chills. It’s led to then-Boston Globe editor Marty Baron, now at the Washington Post, being hailed by Esquire as the Best News Editor of All Time. It’s also interesting that the film was part-funded by First Look Media created by e-Bay founder Pierre Omidyar. Full disclosure: His philanthropic group Omidyar Network and its offspring Democracy Fund are backers of Center projects. Here’s a Poynter piece on what it believes Omidyar is trying to do with First Look.

Of course we’d argue the best way to support investigative journalism is to donate to the Center. Thank you.

Swiss Leaks recognition for our partner

In London, The Guardian — whose recently retired editor Alan Rusbridger might arguably challenge Marty Baron as “world’s best news editor” — won a Press Gazette “investigation of the year” award for its work with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) project on Swiss Leaks or HSBC.

As Gerard Ryle, the ICIJ Director, noted: “What I liked is that when giving Rusbridger his (lifetime achievement) award SwissLeaks (HSBC Files as they called it) was cited along with Snowden et al as one of the biggest investigations of our time.”

Recommendations from others

FastCompany recommended Yue Qiu and Chris Zuba-Skees’ graphical story-telling for the State Integrity project as its “infographic of the day”. included Susan Ferriss’ powerful indictment of the criminalization of children as one of its Big Reads of 2015. Columbia Journalism Review recommended Dan Wagner’s great work with the Seattle Times on Warren Buffett’s gouging mobile home empire as one of its Best of Journalism in 2015 list. The CJR also highlighted the Center’s work with the Post & Courier of Charleston as part of its best of local investigative reporting.

It’s terrific for the team to have that level of recognition from peers.

What we’re reading

I thought this piece in The Economist on Donald Trump summed up the phenomenon well.

This Guardian piece on the disappearing American Middle Class is exactly why we created the new No Way Up project. (Fred SCHULTE kicked off the new project with this appalling piece on loansharks aka title loan firms.)

I just finished the audio book version of “Between the World and Me”, a letter to his son by the African-American writer and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates. As a newcomer to the United States it was for me one of the most powerful statements on the racial divide here I’ve found. It made me think and you can’t ask for much more than that.

I welcome feedback on this note.

Help support this work

Public Integrity doesn’t have paywalls and doesn’t accept advertising so that our investigative reporting can have the widest possible impact on addressing inequality in the U.S. Our work is possible thanks to support from people like you. 

Peter Bale was the Center for Public Integrity's CEO from 2015 to 2016.