Campus & Community

KSG’s Shorenstein Center chooses six Goldsmith Prize finalists

4 min read

Six entries have been chosen as finalists for the 2007 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting awarded each year by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government (KSG).

An awards ceremony marking the presentation of the reporting prize (along with the Goldsmith Book Prizes and the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism) will be held March 13 at the JFK Forum. Additionally, a special citation will be awarded to the Center for Public Integrity for its superb investigative work in the public interest.

The Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting 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, or instances of particularly commendable government performance.

“We are proud to be honoring six superb examples of investigative reporting that had such a powerful impact on the public good,” said Alex S. Jones, director of the Shorenstein Center.

This year’s finalists

The Spotlight Team, Boston Globe, for “Debtors’ Hell.” The Globe’s series details the tactics of unscrupulous debt collection firms, which flood the Massachusetts civil courts with lawsuits against unsuspecting consumers that go virtually unchallenged. The result of the Globe team’s work led to the shutting down of the most notorious collectors while ongoing investigations continue by the state attorney general’s office.

Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber of The Los Angeles Times for “Transplant Patients at Risk.” This investigation of organ transplant programs not only uncovered life-threatening injustices, but shamed government watchdogs into doing their jobs. In only a few months, Ornstein and Weber’s articles prompted reforms in a system that serves as the only lifeline for some of the sickest Americans.

Debbie Cenziper of The Miami Herald for “House of Lies.”

Cenziper’s investigative reporting revealed that in one of the nation’s least affordable cities, the Miami-Dade Housing Agency lost millions of dollars to developers who drained the affordable housing fund but never delivered the homes they promised, stranding the poor in decrepit and unsafe homes. Cenziper’s work led to the subsequent dismissal of top housing officials, investigations on the state and federal level, the return of public money, and the arrest of the developer at the center of the scandal.

Ken Armstrong, Justin Mayo, and Steve Miletich of The Seattle Times for “Your Courts, Their Secrets.” The team at the Times, through diligence and shoe-leather reporting, discovered that hundreds of court cases have been sealed in King County, Wash. The team went to court to have these files opened with the result that misconduct by judges, medical practitioners, school principals, and others was revealed. The series has led to the passage of reform laws by the Washington Supreme Court.

Charles Forelle, James Bandler, and Mark Maremont of The Wall Street Journal for “Stock Option Abuses.” This team used investigative reporting as well as scientific research tools to unravel the practices of top executives who, through unethical manipulation, rewarded themselves with millions of dollars in enhanced stock options. As a result of “Stock Option Abuses,” more than 130 companies are under federal investigation and over 60 top officials have lost their jobs. Additionally, many former executives have been charged with federal crimes.

Dan Morgan, Gilbert M. Gaul, and Sarah Cohen of The Washington Post for “Harvesting Cash.” In this groundbreaking series, Morgan, Gaul, and Cohen exposed waste and abuse in the federal farm subsidy system. By sifting through millions of government records and databases, Post reporters documented $15 billion that was wasted in just a few years in a system with little oversight and few controls. Their work resulted in the rewriting of disaster legislation and led to the defeat in Congress of legislation deemed inappropriately generous to farmers.