Center wins three awards from Society of Professional Journalists

Top prizes go to projects on finance, telecom and black lung

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The Center for Public Integrity has won three Sigma Delta Chi Awards from the Society of Professional Journalists.

In the online, independent category “Civil rights group's FCC positions reflect industry funding, critics say” won the top prize for investigative reporting. The story was written by Center contributor Jason McLure and edited by John Dunbar, who oversees political and financial coverage.

The story profiled the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, a nonprofit which has received extensive industry funding as documented by the Center, and has taken positions that seem to reflect those of their benefactors.

“After the Meltdown” won the online, independent category for non-deadline reporting. The series of stories was written by Alison Fitzgerald, Dan Wagner, former intern Lauren Kyger and Dunbar. It was edited by Fitzgerald and Dunbar.

The three-part series won a George Polk Award for business writing, which was handed out last week.

In it, The Center revisited those who were most responsible for the financial meltdown in 2008 and discovered few if any had suffered any legal consequences. It also reported that executives from all 25 of the top subprime lenders identified in a 2009 Center story are back lending again.

In the online, affiliated category, the Center and ABC News shared the prize for investigative reporting for “Out of Breath: The Untold Story of Big Money, Black Lung and Doctors for the Coal Companies.” The winners were Chris Hamby of the Center and Matt Mosk, Lee Ferran and Brian Ross of ABC News.

The news comes two days after the Center won its first Pulitzer Prize for “Breathless and Burdened: Dying from Black Lung, Buried by Law and Medicine,” the Center’s three-part, 25,000 word investigative series.

The project has won numerous awards this year, including the prestigious Goldsmith Prize for investigative reporting.

For this year’s contest, judges selected 85 honorees from nearly 1,800 submissions. Entries included selections from television and radio broadcasts, newspapers, online news outlets and magazines.

The Sigma Delta Chi Awards date back to 1932, when the Society honored six individuals for their contributions to journalism. The current program began in 1939 as the Distinguished Service Awards.

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