The Miami Herald’s meticulously researched “Innocents Lost” series, which examines the deaths of hundreds of children in Florida, has won the 2014 Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism.
The Herald’s I-Team explored how 477 children died over a six year period, victims not only of abusive or neglectful caregivers but of Florida’s flawed child welfare system. The deaths occurred as the state reduced the number of children in foster care at the same time it cut services for troubled families.
The series was the result of a year’s worth of reporting and multiple lawsuits to obtain state death records. After the publication of the series, the reporters continued to update their online database, which now includes the stories of some 535 young victims. The Herald also hosted a town hall meeting to allow stakeholders, including judges, social workers, parents and teachers, to discuss their concerns.
The Herald’s reports have led to a number of important reforms to state law and policy. The Florida Legislature allocated nearly $50 million to improve child protection services and began the most comprehensive revision of child welfare statutes in its history.
The $20,000 Bingham Prize will be presented to The Miami Herald on May 7, 2015, at the Nieman Foundation.
The Worth Bingham Prize honors investigative reporting of stories of national significance where the public interest is being ill-served. Worth Bingham, a 1954 Harvard University graduate, achieved prominence as an investigative journalist and was vice president and assistant to the publisher for the Louisville Courier-Journal.