iWatch News wins multiple major awards

Investigations of bluefin tuna, campus assault and asbestos recognized with Overseas Press Club, Dart and IRE awards

The Center for Public Integrity has received several top journalism awards:

The Overseas Press Club presented the 2010 Whitman Bassow Award to the Center for our investigative report “Looting the Seas: How Overfishing, Fraud and Negligence Plundered the Majestic Bluefin Tuna.”

The Center and partner NPR recently won a Dart Award at Columbia University for the story “Seeking Justice in Campus Rapes.”

And a series of stories on the international trade in asbestos, thriving despite its established lethality, won two other national awards.

“Looting the Seas” and the asbestos stories were produced by the Center’s International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

A statement from the Overseas Press Club judges said of the project on tuna, “This outstanding effort by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists exhaustively documents the corruption and collusion behind the systematic, global devastation of the blue-fin tuna — and by extension the world’s many endangered marine species. The multimedia project is magnificently presented and involved a team of reporters spanning 10 countries. It opened eyes around the world, led to changes in industry and regulatory practice, and could stand as a new model for investigative journalism in a time of media transition.”

The seven-country inquiry documented a $4 billion black market that accounts for one of every three fish caught. The majority of bluefin tuna end up in Japan as sushi. The ICIJ team relied on a combination of extensive field work and computer-assisted reporting.  The in-depth report was published in or cited by more than 400 media outlets in 14 languages.

“We are enormously proud to have received this distinguished Overseas Press Club Award,” said Center Executive Director William E. Buzenberg. “The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is a unique global investigative journalism organization – ferreting out the truth in complex, cross-border investigations. It is gratifying to see our work recognized by our peers.”

“Looting the Seas” also recently received a medal from Investigative Reporters and Editors.

Another ICIJ project, “Dangers in the Dust: Inside the Global Asbestos Trade,” produced in partnership with the BBC, received an IRE Medal and a John B. Oakes Award.

Stories detailed how the asbestos industry had found new markets in the developing world after bans and restrictions took effect in dozens of countries, including the U.S., and despite predictions of up to 10 million asbestos-related cancer deaths by 2030.

A network of lobby groups has spent nearly $100 million to preserve the global market, using tactics that appeared to have been borrowed from the tobacco industry: create doubt, contest litigation, and delay regulation. Stories focused on industry influence and lethal outcomes in Japan, Mexico and other countries.

The Oakes contest judges described the asbestos stories as an "important and well-researched package about an issue that hasn't attracted as much attention as it deserves." The series also had impact. For instance, as a result of reporting on Canada's role in producing and selling asbestos fiber to India, citizens sent 7,000 letters in an Internet campaign calling for legislators to ban asbestos exports.

The Dart award, from the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia University, was given to The Center for Public Integrity and NPR for their joint campus assault project. “This series combined far-reaching investigative reporting with powerful personal stories to expose a pattern in which college students found responsible for sexual assaults face little punishment, while their victims receive little help,” said the Dart Center in a statement.

The story helped spur the Obama administration to create new rules for how colleges handle this crime.

“No means no, if you're drunk or you're sober,” said Vice President Joe Biden on April 5. “No means no if you're in bed in a dorm or on the street, no means no even if you said yes at first and you changed your mind."

 

The Center for Public Integrity’s campus assault project appeared in more than 350 media outlets, including 77 campus newspapers and websites, with a total audience of more than 50 million viewers, readers and listeners. The Center also worked closely on the project with its partners in the Investigative News Network. 

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