The Nieman Fellows in the class of 2014 have selected Pamela Colloff, an executive editor at the Texas Monthly, as this year’s recipient of the Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism. Colloff was chosen for her tenacious investigations into wrongful convictions, which have exposed deep flaws in the criminal justice system.
The Nieman Fellows noted that “Colloff blends painstaking reporting about the mistakes and misconduct committed by law enforcement with wrenching personal details about the shattered lives of those wrongly convicted. When many of her colleagues have moved on from the sensational murder trials, often content that justice has been served, Colloff treads a lonely road, digging through boxes of court documents, reinterviewing witnesses and questioning the motives of prosecutors and the competence of defense attorneys. Her investigations highlight how a system designed to protect can be corrupted into jailing the innocent and letting the guilty roam free, sometimes to kill again. The power and humanity of her stories has helped force reexaminations into several cases and given them an impact far beyond the borders of Texas, where they take place.”
A four-time National Magazine Award finalist, Colloff was nominated in 2001 for her article on school prayer, and in 2011 for her two-part series, “Innocence Lost” and “Innocence Found,” about wrongly convicted death row inmate Anthony Graves. One month after the publication of “Innocence Lost,” charges against Graves were dropped and he was released him from jail.