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Bingham Prize recipients Lisa Gartner, Nathaniel Lash, Cara Fitzpatrick and Michael LaForgia and Taylor Award winner Margie Mason, NF ‘09 Photo by Lisa Abitbol

Awards & Conferences

Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism

2016 Winner

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The Chicago Tribune is winner of the 2016 Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism for its three-part series “Suffering in Secret.” The result of a yearlong investigation into the abuse and neglect of adults with disabilities in Illinois, the series by reporters Michael J. Berens and Patricia Callahan has led to important reforms to remedy wrongdoing and provide new protections for victims inside Illinois’ taxpayer-funded group homes and their day programs.

Press Release

About the Award

The $20,000 Worth Bingham Prize honors investigative reporting of stories of national significance where the public interest is being ill-served.

These stories may involve state, local or national government, lobbyists or the press itself, wherever an “atmosphere of easy tolerance” exists, as journalist Worth Bingham himself once described public misconduct in his reporting on the nation’s capital.

The investigative reporting may cover actual violations of the law, rule or code; lax or ineffective administration or enforcement; or activities that create conflicts of interest, entail excessive secrecy or otherwise raise questions of propriety.

Judges for the annual prize will be guided by such factors as obstacles overcome in obtaining information, accuracy, clarity of analysis and writing style, magnitude of the situation, and impact on the public, including any reforms that may have resulted.

How to Apply

Entries for work published during the 2016 calendar year are now being accepted and are due by Friday, January 20, 2017.

Entry Guidelines

  • All Bingham Prize entries must be submitted using our online application form.
  • All submissions must have been published in a U.S. newspaper or magazine or on the newspaper or magazine’s website during the 2016 calendar year. Web-based news organizations that follow a strict code of journalistic ethics and publish original reporting on a regular basis may also submit entries. No broadcast-only entries are allowed.
  • Entries may include a single story, a related series of stories, or up to three unrelated stories. Columns and editorials are eligible. Individuals are encouraged to submit their own entries.
  • In case of a series, at least half the individual stories must have been published during the contest year (2016).
  • All entries must be accompanied by a $50 entry fee, payable online.
  • The date appearing on the newspaper or magazine will determine the entry’s eligibility in the contest year.


 The judges’ selection of the winner will be final and not subject to review by the Board of Trustees of the Fund.

Winners in any one year will be eligible for future awards without restriction.

For more information, contact prize coordinator Samantha Henry at 617-496-8511.

About Worth Bingham

Worth Bingham, who died at the age of 34, had proved his potential as a journalist and might well have become one of the nation’s leading editor-publishers. The Bingham family is one of the most storied in American journalism, having dominated the media landscape in Louisville with a powerful, crusading brand of reporting for decades.

Worth Bingham. Jan. 19, 1961. © The Courier-Journal A 1954 graduate of Harvard College, Bingham served three years as a Navy Officer before working as a reporter, first in Minneapolis and then in San Francisco.

He joined the Washington bureau of the Louisville Courier Journal and Times in 1961, where his reporting included, among other things, a series on “Our Costly Congress,” which was widely reprinted and earned him a Headliner Award from the National Headliner Club.

After two years in the paper’s Washington bureau, he returned to Louisville to join the executive staff, and became assistant to the publisher. Married, with two children, he was also active in numerous civic endeavors at the time of his death in 1966.

The Worth Bingham Prize was established in 1967 to commemorate Bingham’s work. The Nieman Foundation took over the administration of the award in 2008. The annual budget is covered by funds donated to Harvard that include past donations from family friends, classmates, fellow journalists and foundations.


Michael J. Berens and Patricia Callahan
The Chicago Tribune
“Suffering in Secret”
Cara Fitzpatrick, Lisa Gartner, Michael LaForgia, Nathaniel Lash, Dirk Shadd, Chris Davis and colleagues
Tampa Bay Times
“Failure Factories”
Carol Marbin Miller, Audra D.S. Burch and colleagues
The Miami Herald
“Innocents Lost”
Cynthia Hubert, Phillip Reese and colleagues
The Sacramento Bee
“Nevada Patient Busing”
Michael Finnegan, Gale Holland and colleagues
Los Angeles Times
“Billions to Spend”
Raquel Rutledge
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Cashing in on Kids”
Press Release
Remarks & Photo Gallery
Jim Schaefer, M.L. Elrick
Detroit Free Press
“A Mayor in Crisis”
Press Release
Remarks & Photo Gallery
Honorable mention:
Ken Armstrong, Nick Perry
The Seattle Times
“Victory and Ruins”
Dana Priest, Anne Hull
The Washington Post
“Walter Reed and Beyond”
Lisa Chedekel, Matthew Kauffman
The Hartford Courant
“Mentally Unfit, Forced to Fight”
Susan Schmidt, James V. Grimaldi, R. Jeffrey Smith
The Washington Post
Lobbying practices and influence of Jack Abramoff
Honorable mention:
Marcus Stern, Jerry Kammer
San Diego Union Tribune
The fall of Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham and congressional corruption
Diana Henriques
The New York Times
“Captive Clientele” – How insurance companies, investment firms and lenders have fleeced thousands of soldiers fighting for their country
Honorable mention:
Gannett New Jersey Staff
“Profiting from Public Service: How New Jersey Legislators Exploit the System” (series)
The Boston Globe
“Abuse in the Catholic Church”
Ken Armstrong, Steve Mills, Maurice Possley
Chicago Tribune
“Cops and Confessions”
Honorable mention:
Ben Raines
Mobile Register
“Mercury taints seafood”
Michael Grunwald
The Washington Post
Series on Army Corps of Engineers
Sang-hun Choe, Charles J. Hanley, Martha Mendoza, Randy Herschaft
The Associated Press
Series on No Gun Ri project
R. G. Dunlop, Gardiner Harris
The Courier-Journal
“Dust, Deception and Death” (series)
Douglas Frantz
The New York Times
“Taxes and Tactics”
Honorable mention:
Detroit Free Press
“The Suicide Machine”
Byron Acohido
The Seattle Times
“Safety at Issue: the 737”
Two winners:
Jenni Bergal, Fred Schulte
“The Medicaid HMO Game: Poor Care, Big Profits” (and other related articles)”
Chris Adams
The Times-Picayune
Profiteering of Louisiana Medicaid program (continued coverage)
Two winners:
Jeff Brazil
Los Angeles Times
Dangerous Delays at the FAA
Ralph Blumenthal, Douglas Frantz
The New York Times
US Air (series)
Honorable mention:
Tim Heider, Joel Rutchick
Plain Dealer
SAFE Fund Investments
Craig Flournoy, Randy Lee Loftis
The Dallas Morning News
“Race and Risk” (government plans to force thousands of poor black residents to live in a Superfund toxic site)
David Boardman, Susan Gilmore, Eric Nalder, Eric Pryne
The Seattle Times
Sexual harassment investigation of U.S. Senator Brock Adams
Richard Behar
TIME Magazine
“Scientology: The Cult of Greed”
Keith McKnight, Bob Paynter, Andrew Zajac
Akron Beacon Journal
Secret campaign contributions in Ohio politics
Honorary mention:
Tom Knudson
Sacramento Bee
“Golden Land/Shattered Earth” (reform of 1872 mining law)
Jenni Bergal, Fred Schulte
Ft. Lauderdale News and Sun-Sentinel
“Crisis in Care: How HRS Fails Florida”
Bill Dedman
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“The Color of Money: lending practices discriminate against blacks”
Staff and editors
“The Rush to Burn: America’s Garbage Gamble”
Robert Woodward
The Washington Post
Secrecy in Government (Reagan administration)
David Ashenfelter, Laura Berman, Tom Hundley, Larry Kostecke, Michael Wagner
Detroit Free Press
Six-part series questioning Michigan Corrections Department’s practices on prisoner release
Two winners:
Brooks Jackson, David Rogers
The Wall Street Journal
“Money and Politics”
Chris Collins, John Hanchette
Gannett News Service
“The Vaccine Machine”
Dennis Camire, Mark Rohner, Sharon Johnson
Gannett News Service
Series investigating fraud and mismanagement in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers Home Administration (FmHA)
Alan Green, Bill Hogan, Diane Kiesel
The New Republic
“The New Slush Fund Scandal: How congressmen live high on campaign money”
Patrick Oster, Bruce Ingersoll
Chicago Sun-Times
“Defense Dilemmas”
Two winners:
Ralph Soda
Gannett Papers
Series on an attempt by two brothers to corner the world’s silver market
Ted Gup, Jonathan Neumann
The Washington Post
Five-part series exposing how companies bribed federal government officials for lucrative government consulting contracts
John Fialka
Washington Star
“Nifty Nugget”: Three-part series on U.S. military shortcomings as revealed by a secret military exercise in Europe
David Hess
Akron Beacon Journal
A body of work on problems with Firestone’s steel-belted radial tires
Michael J. Sniffen, Richard E. Meyer
The Associated Press
Bert Lance used the same stock as collateral for two different loans
Morton Mintz
The Washington Post
“The Medicine Business” (series): Why pharmaceutical disasters continue to occur
James Risser
The Des Moines Register
Corruption in the grain-exporting business
Maxine Cheshire
The Washington Post
Four-part series on whereabouts of state gifts to U.S. officials and their families from foreign leaders and dignitaries
Jerry Landauer
The Wall Street Journal
Spiro Agnew series
Carl Bernstein, Robert Woodward
The Washington Post
Bugging of Democratic National Headquarters at the Watergate
Frank Wright
Minneapolis Tribune
How dairy lobby applied financial weight to secure a favorable decision on price supports; implications in political process
James Clayton
The Washington Post
Series of editorials criticizing President Nixon’s nominee to the Supreme Court, G. Harrold Carswell
Seymour Hersh
Dispatch News Service
My Lai 4 incident (series of four articles)
Special Assignment Team
The Associated Press
Collection of reports on various ways the federal government wasted taxpayers’ money
William Lambert
Senator Edward Long’s Help-Hoffa campaign