5/4/2017

7 ways IRE recognised DDJ in 2016

 

With over 480 entries to choose from, the judges of this year's IRE Awards had no easy task ahead of them. But, eventually, announced 18 top notch pieces of investigative journalism yesterday.

Of these, at least seven investigations focused on exploring or communicating stories through data. We took a look at what the judges had to say to about them.

1. FOI award: Denied: How Texas Keeps Tens of Thousands of Children Out of Special Education, Houston Chronicle

ire1.PNG

Image: A snippet of the story's data sources.

What the judges said:

"The Houston Chronicle mounted an exhaustive effort to probe a secret, arbitrary and illegal quota set by Texas state officials in 2004 to limit the number of students who could receive special education services such as tutoring, counseling and therapy. Adherence to the standard was a factor in school performance scores. The measure saved the state billions of dollars. "Denied" initiated critical change, prompting the U.S. Department of Education to investigate and quickly order that the benchmark end, with remedies for its damage. The shift removed a roadblock to some 250,000 more children entitled to special education who finally could receive needed services. The Chronicle’s use of records and their denial as a foundation for its extensive shoe-leather reporting, and that of others, is a model for investigative reporting. In triggering change for vulnerable children, "Denied" exemplifies the best aspirations of journalism to expose injustice and alleviate harm."

Read the story here.

2. Print/Online - Large: Suffering in Secret, Chicago Tribune

What the judges said:

"The strategy seemed simple: the state of Illinois would save money by directing thousands of low-income, disabled, and often defenseless, residents to less expensive private group homes. But what the Chicago Tribune uncovered in “Suffering in Secret” was a system that allowed many of the state’s most vulnerable to be mistreated. Through databases, court records, investigative files, emails and other public records, the reporters told a story that was heartbreaking, troubling and sorely needed. And beautifully written."

Read the story here.

3. Print/Online - Medium: Doctors & Sex Abuse, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ire2.PNG

Image: AJC.

What the judges said:

"After noticing a pattern in Georgia, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporters expanded their investigation to unveil systemic sex abuse of patients by their doctors in every state. In a project reminiscent of the Catholic priest sex abuse scandal, the reporters combined sophisticated research techniques with shoe-leather and public records reporting and found that the medical profession views sexual abuse as an illness to be treated, rather than a crime to be punished. They found some doctors with hundreds of victims and a profession that has resisted actions that could prevent and detect abuse."

Read the story here.

4. Innovation in Investigative Journalism - Large: Panama Papers, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Süddeutsche Zeitung, McClatchy, the Miami Herald, Fusion, Swedish Television and more than 100 other media partners.

panama.PNG

Image: Panama Papers.

What the judges said:

"Sifting through 2.6 terabytes of data in 11.5 million files with over 400 journalists representing upwards of 100 partners is a seemingly impossible task to coordinate and keep secret. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists showed exceptional ingenuity and skill by developing new tools and approaches that facilitated the unprecedented collaboration, and demonstrated a new model for journalistic co-operation to expose dealings of hundreds of thousands of entities. The results from this project around the world are testimony to its impact. It clearly made public something that others would want to keep secret."

Read the story here.

5. Innovation in Investigative Journalism - Medium: Chemical Breakdown, Houston Chronicle

What the judges said:

"In the wake of a deadly chemical explosion, the Houston Chronicle reporters partnered with experts to create a new method of analyzing and rating potential harm from facilities in the region. Their investigation found harm well beyond industrial corridors, close to schools and homes. The reporters fought local planning boards for chemical inventory data that was not reported to federal officials and salvaged a repository of national data from a defunct nonprofit that had collected it for years. The local fire department has relied on the project's work to identify previously unnoticed risks."

Read the story here.

6. Innovation in Investigative Journalism - Small: Settling for Misconduct, The Chicago Reporter

What the judges said:

"As the shooting of black men continued to make headlines, various cities were doling out settlements to families. So The Chicago Reporter decided to examine how much the city was paying to settle its police misconduct lawsuits and built its own database. The findings were staggering: Chicago paid out $210 million during a four-year period (and $53 million on outside attorneys), nearly $50 million over its annual budget for lawsuits, and forcing officials to borrow millions to pay the settlements. This project had it all: an interactive database, maps, and video. Well done and timely. "

Read the story here.

7. Radio/Audio - Large: Advanced Black Lung Cases Surge in Appalachia, NPR

What the judges said:

"Howard Berkes discovered that deadly Black Lung cases in West Virginia and nearby coal states were 10 times higher than the official count, mainly because the federal government was tracking only working miners. But its methodology missed hundreds of miners who needed their paychecks and waited to go to clinics to seek federal benefits until they were laid off, their mines closed, or they were too sick to work. A poignant story with personal interviews, like that with one miner who said, "The more I talk, the more I get out of breath," and another who called his rock-cutting machine "the Dust Dragon.""

Check out the rest of the winning entries here.

Comments