Daniel Pearl Awards winners announced

The winners of the 2011 Daniel Pearl Awards were announced Saturday at the seventh Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Kiev, Ukraine. The top exposés deal with offshore crime networks and international sex trafficking.

The awards honor the slain Wall St. Journal reporter and celebrate the best in cross-border investigative reporting. This year's biennial competition attracted 70 entries from 30 countries. An international panel of five judges selected seven finalists, from which they chose one U.S. winner, one international winner and a special citation.

2011 winners:

  • International: Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project: Offshore Crime, Inc. This investigation uncovered how Eastern European criminals and corrupt politicians use offshore havens as fronts for money laundering, tax evasion, and drug and weapon smuggling.
  • U.S.: Mimi Chakarova, Center for Investigative Reporting: The Price of Sex. Photojournalist Chakarova reveals in riveting detail the underground criminal networks and the experiences of Eastern European women forced into prostitution abroad.  

Each winner receives US $5,000. Each set of finalists receives US $1,000.

A special citation ($2,000) went to:

NPR, Radio Canada/CBC, and Swiss TV RSI for Tamiflu, Inc. The investigation examined the decisions made by the World Health Organization and The Centers for Disease Control in light of the swine flu and H1N1 flu pandemic.

The finalists:

  • Michael Smith, Bloomberg Markets Magazine: Lethal Commerce. Investigation followed the stories of impoverished victims, brokers, and doctors involved in illicit organ transplant trafficking in Latin America.
  • Sarah Stillman: The Invisible Army. Exposed the plight of more than 70,000 low-wage foreign workers on U.S. military bases in Afghanistan and Iraq and detailed the grave abuses they suffer.
  • Anna Schecter and Brian Ross, ABC News: Peace Corps — Trust Betrayed. Investigation uncovered the Peace Corps leadership’s mistreatment of volunteers who were raped or sexually assaulted at their posts.
  • Forum for African Investigative Reporters: Pirates, Smugglers and Corrupt Tycoons. Followed development projects in African countries and found such criminal activities as piracy and oil smuggling support economies and communities when weak and inefficient governments fail. 

Judges were impressed with the ambitious entries — and the clear risks the winners took to get their story. “Reporters from OCCRP went undercover, which allowed them to meet business agents, lawyers and others who advised them how to set up phony offshore accounts, cheat on taxes, even buy turnkey money laundering and tax evasion services,” said judge Manny Garcia, executive editor of El Nuevo Herald.

Judge Ginger Thompson of the New York Times was captivated by Chakarova’s documentary: “Her attention to detail and dignity in her portrayals of victims, and the breathtaking courage she showed during her forays into the criminal underworld should serve as the professional standard to which all investigative reporters aspire.”

Said ICIJ Director Gerard Ryle: “The winning entries show the power and value of investigative collaboration in today’s increasingly difficult media environment. I congratulate some magnificent journalism."

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