Center wins awards from Society of Professional Journalists’ D.C. chapter

Business, environmental and political reporting honored

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The Center for Public Integrity and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists won seven journalism awards on Tuesday night from the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Reporting on the secretive world of Swiss banking, the criminalization of minor school crimes, the proliferation of “dark money” in U.S. elections, the fate of American workers exposed to toxic substances and the failure of the Environmental Protection Agency’s civil rights efforts was honored.

SPJ DC judges praised the “Environmental Justice, Denied” project in particular — which highlighted the EPA’s inaction — for being “thoroughly investigated and written in a compelling way that brings a human face to the issue,” as well as for bringing “attention to a serious problem in a government agency.”

“It’s great to have this recognition from the Washington press corps of the importance of investigative journalism and the work of the Center for Public Integrity and the ICIJ in U.S. and international reporting,” said Peter Bale, chief executive officer of the Center for Public Integrity.

The awards also came as the Society of Professional Journalists’ DC chapter honored Center for Public Integrity founder Chuck Lewis with its Distinguished Service Award.

In his acceptance speech, Lewis — now the founding executive editor of the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, where he is also a professor — praised the Center for Public Integrity for doing “a lot of the heavy lifting that others can’t do,” and he encouraged all journalists to keep investigating “the bastards.”

Lewis also praised the recent transnational collaboration of journalists in the Panama Papers investigation spearheaded by the ICIJ and Süddeutsche Zeitung. “Can you imagine that happening 10, 20, 30 years ago?” Lewis said.

The specific Center for Public Integrity and ICIJ projects that won Dateline Awards from the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists on Tuesday night included the following:

  • Criminalizing Kids” won in the online non-breaking news category, as well as winning the Correspondent Award for distinguished coverage of the Washington area published outside of the Washington, D.C., area
     
  • Unequal Risk” — the series on toxic substances — won in the category for an online series, as well as the category for YouTube content
     
  • Environmental Justice, Denied” won in the category for online investigative journalism
     
  • Swiss Leaks” won in the online business reporting category
     
  • A package from the team focused on state and federal politics entitled “Dark Money in America” won in the online beat reporting category

Five other projects from the Center for Public Integrity and the ICIJ were honored as finalists.

Center for Public Integrity reporter Michael Mishak was also named a finalist in the non-breaking news category for magazines for a story he wrote last year at the National Journal about labor unions’ relationship with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The Washington, D.C., chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists honored print, TV, radio and online journalism at its annual Dateline Awards banquet at the National Press Club on Tuesday night.

The group’s top prize — the Robert D.G. Lewis Watchdog Award — was awarded to John Solomon and Kelly Riddell of the Washington Times for their investigation entitled “The Clintons’ Swedish Jackpot,” which examined how former President Bill Clinton’s charitable fundraising and speechmaking intertwined with Hillary Clinton’s official government work overseas.

During the event, CBS News Senior White House correspondent Bill Plante, longtime New Yorker magazine Washington reporter Elizabeth Drew and Washington Post columnist Jonetta Rose Barras were also inducted in the SPJ DC’s Hall of Fame, which recognizes individuals for producing strong Washington journalism for at least 25 years.

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