The Chicago Tribune has won the Nieman Foundation’s 2012 Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Newspapers for “Playing with Fire.” The six-part series revealed how the chemical and tobacco industries for years misled the public with deceptive campaigns that promoted the use of toxic flame-retardant chemicals that don’t work and pose serious health risks to consumers.
Two other entries have been selected as finalists for the Taylor Award: the Tampa Bay Times for its “Stand Your Ground,” series which, in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case, separated facts from misconceptions surrounding Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law; and The Boston Globe for “Justice in the Shadows,” a three-part series that took a close look at the secretive law enforcement system that oversees suspected illegal immigrants in the country.
The Chicago Tribune’s “Playing with Fire” series exposed disconcerting information about the flame retardants commonly used in furniture that were shown not only to be ineffective in slowing fires, but also are linked to cancer, impaired fertility and developmental problems. The Tribune investigation found that manufacturers of the chemicals controlled damaging facts about the safety of their products and issued statements that misled lawmakers and consumers for years.
The Taylor Award ceremony will be held on March 14, 2013 at the Nieman Foundation. The award program was established by members of the Taylor family, who published The Boston Globe from 1872 to 1999, to encourage fairness in news coverage by America’s daily newspapers.