A Center for Public Integrity collaboration with The Associated Press examining the politics behind epidemic levels of opioid abuse has won a National Press Club Award.
The Politics of Pain series was awarded the club’s Consumer Journalism Award for Periodicals. The investigation provided a unique look at how drug makers and their allies sought to thwart steps intended to combat the opioid epidemic.
"The reporting team did a phenomenal job of providing blanket coverage of the entire country in documenting efforts by big pharmaceutical companies to buy political influence to block and delay legislation and impede other efforts to combat prescription opioid painkiller abuse while pushing their own questionable and very profitable remedies," the judges wrote.
Center for Public Integrity reporters Liz Essley Whyte and Ben Wieder worked with AP reporters Geoff Mulvihill and Matthew Perrone for 10 months to piece together the series, digging into campaign contributions, lobbying reports, internal company documents and government emails key to understanding the role that political considerations played in shaping the response to the crisis. The series was edited by AP’s Kristin Gazlay and Tom Verdin, and the Center’s Kytja Weir.
“This was an extremely important story that shined a light on the sometimes dark practices of the opioid lobby,” said Center for Public Integrity CEO John Dunbar. “Thanks to the groundbreaking collaborative effort between the Center and the AP, we were able to show to an audience of millions the inner workings of the one of the engines that helped drive the epidemic.”
The press club recognition marks the fifth journalism prize awarded to the series. Politics of Pain also won honors from the Association of Health Care Journalists Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism, the New York Press Club, the New York City Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists Deadline Awards and the Society of Professional Journalists D.C. Pro Chapter’s Dateline Awards.
The National Press Club Award honorees will be celebrated July 28 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Among other winners: The Washington Post, ProPublica, Bloomberg and The Chicago Tribune.