Mother Jones Wins the 2017 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting from Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center

Contact: Nilagia McCoy
Phone: (617) 495-2233
Date: March 02, 2017

Cambridge, MA — The $25,000 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting from the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School has been awarded to Shane Bauer of Mother Jones for his investigative report “My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard.”

Bauer spent four months working as a guard to get a deep look inside the secretive world of private prisons, exposing mismanagement. Within a few weeks, the Department of Justice announced it would end its use of private prisons and the Department of Homeland Security said it would consider doing the same.

“The judges agonized over this year’s decision,” said Shorenstein Center Director Nicco Mele. “Ultimately, the Mother Jones piece was an exceptional piece of reporting that deserved special attention and recognition. It was a brave and unusual story, full of challenges that were deftly navigated in the finest tradition of deep reporting.”

Additionally, the Shorenstein Center awarded the Career Award for Excellence in Journalism to Jorge Ramos. The Goldsmith Book Prizes were awarded to James T. Hamilton for Democracy’s Detectives: The Economics of Investigative Journalism and David Greenberg for Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency.

Five finalists for the 2017 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting received $10,000 each:

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution 
Carrie Teegardin, Danny Robbins, Ariel Hart, Jeff Ernsthausen, Alan Judd and Johnny Edwards
Doctors & Sex Abuse
This Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation revealed a culture of secrecy and deference that protected doctors who sexually violated vulnerable patients. In light of the findings, the Georgia medical board is re-examining its handling of sexual misconduct, and lawmakers in several states are considering strengthening patient protections.

Chicago Tribune
Sam Roe, Karisa King and Ray Long
Dangerous Doses
Chicago Tribune’s two-year investigation into prescription drug interactions sparked widespread reforms at the nation’s pharmacies, led to the creation of a scientific method for discovering fatal drug combinations, and prompted state and federal authorities to call for policy and legislative action.

Los Angeles Times
David S. Cloud
California National Guard Enlistment Bonus Scandal
After the Los Angeles Times revealed that the California National Guard was using tax liens, wage garnishments and other penalties to recover tens of millions of dollars in enlistment bonuses from about 9,700 soldiers and veterans, the Secretary of Defense suspended the repayment program and Congress passed a law that will waive most of the debts.

Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Josh Salman, Emily Le Coz and Elizabeth Johnson
Bias on the Bench
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune revealed that trial judges throughout Florida treated black and white defendants differently, sentencing blacks to more time behind bars and giving them fewer second chances. Florida lawmakers have called for more oversight, and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee suggested a mandatory annual review of sentencing patterns.

The Wall Street Journal
John Carreyrou, Christopher Weaver and Michael Siconolfi
The Downfall of Theranos
The Wall Street Journal revealed trouble at a laboratory startup that promised a revolutionary blood testing technique. The investigation exposed problems in the technology that jeopardized the health of patients. As a result, Theranos was sanctioned by federal health regulators, Walgreens terminated a contract with the company and numerous lawsuits have been filed.

The judges for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting were Audra Burch, enterprise and investigative reporter at the Miami Herald and 2015 Goldsmith Prize winner; Mike Greenfield of the Greenfield Foundation (financial supporters of the Goldsmith Awards Program); Davan Maharaj, editor-in-chief and publisher at the Los Angeles Times; and Sacha Pfeiffer, reporter at The Boston Globe and 2003 Goldsmith Prize winner. Nicco Mele, director of the Shorenstein Center, chaired the meeting and served as a judge. Judges recused themselves from voting on entries from their employer.

Launched in 1991, the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting honors journalism which promotes more effective and ethical conduct of government, the making of public policy, or the practice of politics by disclosing excessive secrecy, impropriety and mismanagement.

The Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism was awarded to Jorge Ramos, Noticiero Univision anchorman. The award is given for outstanding contributions to the field of journalism, and for work that has enriched political discourse. Past recipients include Gwen Ifill, Seymour Hersh, Walter Isaacson and Christiane Amanpour.

The Goldsmith Book Prize is awarded to the academic and trade books that best fulfill the objective of improving democratic governance through an examination of the intersection between the media, politics and public policy.
The Goldsmith Book Prize for best academic book was awarded to James T. Hamilton for Democracy’s Detectives: The Economics of Investigative Journalism (Harvard University Press).
The Goldsmith Book Prize for best trade book was awarded to David Greenberg for Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency (W.W. Norton).

The Goldsmith Prizes are underwritten by an annual gift from the Goldsmith Fund of the Greenfield Foundation.

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