Banner Image for Bingham Award Winners
The 50th anniversary of the Worth Bingham Prize included a panel of past and present winners. From left, Michael J. Berens, Audra D.S. Burch, Michael Rezendes and Dana Priest Lisa Abitbol

Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism

Bingham Award Winners

2016

Michael J. Berens and Patricia Callahan

The Chicago Tribune

The Chicago Tribune’s three-part series “Suffering in Secret” was result of a yearlong investigation into the abuse and neglect of adults with disabilities in Illinois. Reporters Michael J. Berens and Patricia Callahan revealed mistreatment inside Illinois’ taxpayer-funded group homes and their day programs, discovering that caregivers often failed to provide even basic care and regulators concealed instances of serious harm and death. They also found that Illinois had directed thousands of poor adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities away from state institutions into less expensive private group homes. Among their findings: Illinois publicly undercounted abuse and neglect cases for five years and the Human Services inspector general allowed group home employees to police their own businesses. The reporters identified more than 1,300 cases of harm since July 2011 and tracked at least 42 deaths linked to abuse or neglect. The series led to a number of important reforms: Citing “imminent risk,” the Illinois Department of Human Services revoked the license of a group home network spotlighted in the Tribune’s investigation and relocated 45 adults with developmental disabilities to new homes;  Illinois Senate and House lawmakers held a rare joint hearing, during which they promised new laws and increased public accountability; and Human Services reopened two neglect investigations spotlighted by the Tribune and promised to unseal more than 1,000 investigations for parents and guardians who seek group home enforcement history. State officials also retracted five years of erroneous group home statistics on abuse and neglect cases and republished corrected numbers on the state website. The state also created a public report card for all group homes.

Read the series.

2015

Cara Fitzpatrick, Lisa Gartner, Michael LaForgia, Nathaniel Lash, Dirk Shadd, Chris Davis and colleagues

Tampa Bay Times

The Tampa Bay Times’ 2015 series “Failure Factories” investigated how the Pinellas County school district in Florida transformed five elementary schools into the worst in the state through resegregation and intentional neglect. The district ended integration in 2007, leaving schools overwhelmingly poor and black, and families to provide the money and resources when black children started failing at a drastic rate; teachers left their jobs in a chronic turnover; and middle-class families moved away. Eight in 10 students in those schools failed reading, the Times found, and nine in 10 failed math. The paper’s reporting led to a number of reforms. At the time of the prize, three of the five schools were designated as magnets to attract diversity and better teachers and local business invested money and volunteers. The U.S. Department of Education also opened an investigation to examine the schools, and, as a result, the Pinellas school district released recommendations aimed and repairing the damage done and paying teachers thousands of dollars more.

Read the series.

2014

Carol Marbin Miller, Audra D.S. Burch and colleagues

The Miami Herald

The Miami Herald’s Investigation team examined how 477 children died as a result of abuse and neglect over a six- year period within Florida’s child welfare system.  After obtaining state death records by way of lawsuit, the paper documented how the state of Florida left children with violent or drug-addicted caregivers, and how several state departments sought to manipulate child fatality data and block the release of details regarding child fatalities. While painstakingly reconstructing the lives and often-gruesome deaths of the children, the Miami Herald also compiled an online database of children to accompany the series. It now contains the stories and cases of 534 children who died in care. The paper’s series led the state of Florida to allocate nearly $50 million for child protection services and the state began the most comprehensive review of child welfare statutes in its history. Lawmakers also required the Department of Children and Families to include a list of child fatalities on their website. Among other responses, prosecutors also some charged child welfare workers with felonies for their roles leading to the deaths of several children included in the series.

Read the series.

2013

Cynthia Hubert, Phillip Reese and colleagues

The Sacramento Bee

The Sacramento Bee found that, over the course of five years, the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas transported more than 1,500 mentally ill patients out of Nevada to communities they did not know and with little food or medical supplies. The hospital sent, by way of Greyhound bus, at least one person to every state in the continental United States. A third of those patients were sent to California. When they arrived in their new cities, many patients found they lacked a plan for treatment or housing. Others were violent offenders who committed crimes in their new cities. As a result of the series, the Rawson-Neal Hospital lost its accreditation, fired two staffers, disciplined others and announced it would no longer bus patients without chaperones.

Read the series.

2012

Sam Dolnick

The New York Times

In his three-part series, Sam Dolnick uncovered rampant sexual abuse, gang activity, drug use and sales, and startling lack of oversight in New Jersey halfway houses intended to help inmates reenter society. Counselors at the houses helped create falsified drug tests for inmates and sometimes sexually abused inmates. Some runaways from New Jersey’s halfway houses committed violent crimes, including murder, yet the state did nothing to punish the halfway house operators. And in one facility, Delaney Hall, people charged on relatively small crimes were thrown in the mix with high-level criminals—often with deadly consequences. Dolnick’s investigation also exposed the close ties between New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Community Education Centers, the company in charge of many of the state’s halfway houses. The Times’ reports prompted fines against some halfway house operators and the introduction of 14 reform bills in the state. The senior executive of the Community Education Centers resigned as a result of the reports.

Read the series.

2011

Michael Finnegan, Gale Holland and colleagues

Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times reporters spent 18 months investigating a story about how tens of millions of dollars were wasted in a project to rebuild nine community colleges in the city. Reporters found that the $5.9 billion voter-approved construction project lacked oversight and quality control, resulting in unfinished buildings, shoddy work practices, and safety violations. Beyond the dangerous results of the construction, the schools also recklessly spent money hiring unnecessary personnel, such as a feng shui expert brought in to give advice on harmonizing buildings. The Times also reported concerns of nepotism in the schools as officials sought to help their relatives land jobs in the district. The Times’ stories led to swift action on the part of prosecutors and college leaders. The trustees fired the head of the construction program, the Los Angeles District Attorney opened three investigations into the construction project, and the college system’s chancellor established a committee to review ethics and oversight of the project.

Read the series.

2010

Michael J. Berens

The Seattle Times

In his comprehensive six-part series “Seniors for Sale: Exploiting the aged and frail in Washington’s adult family homes,” reporter Michael J. Berens found that thousands of vulnerable elderly adults had been abused, neglected or exploited for profit in many of Washington’s more than 2,800 adult family homes. He also discovered an underlying cause for his findings: Caseworkers trying to meet quotas were transferring nursing home residents into the homes to reduce the state’s Medicaid costs and save money. Berens created a comprehensive database listing adult-family-home enforcement actions from 1995 through 2009. The reporting led to important reforms: adult-home owners must publicly post inspection reports and violations, the state now lists all enforcement actions on its website, and DSHS reports all cases of suspected abuse and neglect in King County (Seattle) to law enforcement. Additionally, the director of the state department that oversees adult family homes was demoted and an adult-home owner and a caregiver profiled in the series were sentenced to jail.

Read the series.

2009

Raquel Rutledge

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

In reports published over the course of a year, reporter Raquel Rutledge exposed how lax oversight of the $350 million taxpayer-subsidized Wisconsin Shares child care program resulted in massive fraud. Rutledge helped uncover $20 million in suspicious payments to child care providers as well as criminal activity connected to the system that repeatedly put children in danger. The reporting identified the parents, drug dealers and assorted others who bilked taxpayers of millions of dollars, stealing funds from parents who truly needed help paying for day care as they labored to pull themselves out of poverty. State and local officials overlooked the malfeasance and prosecutors were unaware. Rutledge’s journalism provoked indictments and new laws that reformed the system. As a result, those who actually needed help started to get it.

Read the series.

2008

Jim Schaefer and M.L. Elrick

Detroit Free Press

Over the course of a year, the Detroit Free Press used text messages and city records to chronicle the downfall of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who was implicated in a sex scandal, corruption and a cover-up. Kilpatrick and his top aide, Christine Beatty, had used city dollars to fund their affair. The Detroit Free Press also revealed the lies and false testimony in the case of Kilpatrick and Beatty, who both sought to bury a lawsuit settlement that threatened to expose their personal relationship. The trial cost the city more than $9 million The Detroit Free Press reporting promoted a perjury investigation that led to jail terms for the two city officials, and eventually, Kilpatrick admitted to lying under oath and resigned.

Read the series.

Honorable mention

Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry

The Seattle Times

“Victory and Ruins”

2007

Dana Priest and Anne Hull

The Washington Post

The Washington Post’s series about the prestigious Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., revealed widespread neglect and mistreatment of wounded veterans. Soldiers languished in vermin-infested rooms, some of which had black mold growing and no heat or water. Unqualified and overworked staffers tended to veterans as they lived in decrepit conditions.  In addition, several Walter Reed-related deaths occurred as a result of preventable suicide, drug overdose and over-drinking. The Post’s reporting more broadly revealed the inefficiencies, mismanagement and understaffing of the veteran health care system. As a result of the Post’s series, Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited the facility and promised to hold those responsible accountable. The Army fired the head of the center from his position, and his replacement was forced to resign after he didn’t move quickly enough to enact reform. The reporting also led the Department of Veterans Affairs to undertake an extensive analysis of the veteran health system.

Read the series.

2006

Lisa Chedekel and Matthew Kauffman

The Hartford Courant

The Hartford Courant’s investigation revealed that the United States government sent troops to combat even when they exhibited suicidal behavior or explicitly indicated they might commit suicide. In 2005, the number of soldiers serving in Iraq who killed themselves spiked to 22, and, the Courant found, six incidents occurred within eight weeks of each other. The military did nothing to respond to those clustered incidents. The spike in suicides came after the U.S. officials sounded an alarm in 2003, when 11 soldiers and 2 marines committed suicide, causing the government to pledge to improve mental health services. Yet the military continued to send soldiers, even those who exhibited signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, to the front lines. Beyond suicides, the Courant found gaps in mental health care for soldiers that had the potential of causing accidents and critical mistakes in combat. The Courant’s series inspired legislation that expanded mental health screenings and care for U.S. troops deployed to combat.

Read the series.

2005

Susan Schmidt, James V. Grimaldi and R. Jeffrey Smith

The Washington Post

The Washington Post revealed that powerful Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff channeled the vast majority of money from a foundation that solicited donations for “needy and deserving sportsmanship programs” into his own personal activities—including an expensive golf trip to Scotland and a Jewish school. The Post’s reporting first revealed that Native American tribes Abramoff represented donated millions to his charitable foundation, spurring investigations by the Justice Department, the Internal Revenue Service and two congressional committees. Abramoff used most of money the Native American clients provided to him to fund House Republican campaign events and his own lobbying efforts, instead of help Native Americans’ legislative causes. Ultimately, he was convicted of fraud and the investigation into his corrupt practices led to nearly two dozen others being found guilty or pleading guilty for corruption.

Read the series.

Honorable mention

Marcus Stern and Jerry Kammer

San Diego Union Tribune

The fall of Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham and congressional corruption

2004

Diana Henriques

The New York Times

A months-long series by the New York Times found that financial services companies often misled and exploited military personnel when trying to sell them insurance. Diana Henriques’s reporting revealed that thousands of service members were being sold products far more expensive than that they would have received through the military. Her investigation also found that companies used unethical pitching practices that violated Defense Department regulations. While the government had known about such practices for decades, it did nothing to sanction exploitative insurance companies. The series led to legislative reform and cash reimbursements for thousands of defrauded military personnel.

Read the series.

2003

David Willman

Los Angeles Times

In this story five years in the making, David Willman of the Los Angeles Times revealed that corruption in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) compromised the integrity of its research. Willman investigated the conflict of interest surrounding National Institutes of Health researchers who consulted for and received hundreds and thousands of dollars in payment from pharmaceutical companies. These researchers—often top NIH officials—received payment from companies whose drugs they studied. Such dual roles became more and more common in the NIH, at the same time that nature of these consulting arrangements increasingly became hidden from public view. Compared to other federal agencies, the NIH was one of the most secretive when it came to financial disclosures. The investigation specifically investigated several top NIH officials, including Stephen I. Katz, who conducted a study using a drug from a company for which he consulted. That study resulted in the death of a patient, but research continued for nine months after.

Read the series.

Honorable mention

Staff

Gannett New Jersey

“Profiting from Public Service: How New Jersey Legislators Exploit the System” (series)

2002

Staff

The Boston Globe

The Boston Globe’s 2002 investigation into sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church won the Worth Bingham Prize and Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Public Service. The Globe’s Spotlight team discovered that former priest John Geoghan had raped or fondled hundreds of children over the course of three decades. The series found that top leaders in the Catholic Church, including the archbishop of Boston, were aware of Geoghan’s sex abuse history, yet still allowed him to remain in the Church. Spotlight reporters later discovered that the Church had quietly settled dozens of child molestation claims against at least 70 priests. Their reporting spurred similar investigations into the Church across the country and the globe and led to the resignation of Cardinal Bernard F. Law, the Boston’s archbishop who knew of Geoghan’s abuses for decades yet did nothing to stop it. The story behind the Globe reporters’ efforts to uncover the truth was brought to the screen in “Spotlight, “which won Academy Awards for best picture and other categories in 2016.

Read the series.

2001

Ken Armstrong, Steve Mills and Maurice Possley

Chicago Tribune

In a series illustrating systemic problems in murder investigations, the Chicago Tribune examined thousands of cases filed in Cook County. The reporting found hundreds of instances in which police found incriminating information that did not result in convictions. The series also documented that police had substituted interrogation for investigation and used confessions to convict innocent people while killers remained free. In one such case, the paper found that police had used a false report and false testimony to obtain a life sentence for 17-year-old Daniel Taylor, even though he had been in jail at the time the crime was committed. After the series was published, old cases were re-examined, resulting in several exonerations, including one as recently as 2014.

Read the series.

Honorable mention

Ben Raines

Mobile Register

“Mercury taints seafood”

2000

Michael Grunwald

The Washington Post

Over the course of a year, The Washington Post published dozens of articles revealing that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wasted billions of dollars on public works and caused environmental damage with their projects, propped up by powerful members of Congress. Michael Grunwald conducted 1,000 interviews, obtained thousands of agency documents and traveled to projects sites, characterizing the Army Corps as “an agency of unchecked clout.” In response to the series, the senior Army Corps commander barred members of the agency from giving interviews to Grunwald. Ultimately, the Army investigated the agency and supported Grunwald’s reporting, which also spurred Congressional hearings.

Read the story.

1999

Sang-hun Choe, Charles J. Hanley, Martha Mendoza and Randy Herschaft

The Associated Press

When Koreans claimed that American troops had killed hundreds of refugees in the Korean War at No Gun Ri, The Associated Press decided to investigate. After examining hundreds of war journals, communications logs, radio messages and other documents as well as conducting dozens of interviews with survivors and veterans, the AP reporters found that the story was true. In several follow-up reports, the AP also found that members of the U.S. Air Force killed hundreds of South Korean refugees in strafing attacks. After the first story was published, the U.S. defense secretary asked the Army to investigate No Gun Ri and the South Korean government launched its own investigation.

Read the series.

1998

R. G. Dunlop and Gardiner Harris

The Courier-Journal

The Courier-Journal’s series found that 30 years after federal regulations were imposed, miners continued to breathe dangerous levels of coal dust and more than 1,500 a year died of black lung disease. The series also found that cheating on dust tests was rampant and miners themselves assisted in government deception in these tests for fear of losing their jobs. The reporting revealed that the federal agency responsible for protecting mine safety ignored the clearly fraudulent tests. As a result of the reporting, the Kentucky legislature held hearings, the Mine Safety and Health Administration increased inspections, and a Democrat called for Senate hearings on the issue.

1997

Douglas Frantz

The New York Times

The New York Times investigated the story behind the IRS’s decision to grant the Church of Scientology tax-exempt status, and found that the decision was the result of a series of unusual moves by the agency that followed an aggressive campaign from Scientology. The Times discovered that Scientology dug into the private lives of IRS agents and negotiated with them behind closed doors in order to obtain tax-exempt status. The Times found that Scientology officials had hired private investigators to conduct surveillance operations.

Read the story.

Honorable mention

Staff

Detroit Free Press

“The Suicide Machine”

1996

Byron Acohido

The Seattle Times

This Seattle Times series examined the technical, regulatory and legal issues surrounding the Boeing 737, then the most widely used airliner in the world. Acohido’s investigation found hundreds of pilot reports of troubling rudder movements that had disrupted 737 flights, often resulting in fatal crashes. To report the story, Acohido reviewed thousands of pages of federal records, airline reports and legal briefs filed in accident cases. In response to the investigation, Boeing, which had not cooperated with The Seattle Times, for the first time publicly acknowledged serious problems with the plane’s rudder and the FAA ordered an immediate inspection of all 737 rudder control systems. The company also agreed to make major modifications to its rudders.

Read the series.

1995

Two winners

Jenni Bergal and Fred Schulte

Sun-Sentinel

The Sun-Sentinel examined patient-care abuses and the lavish executive salaries of tax-funded Florida health maintenance organizations, which often failed to provide the health care the state paid them to provide. In their series, Bergal and Schulte revealed that some Medicaid HMOs reported extremely low use of vital health care services, indicating quality issues; a Florida state senator received a $500,000 consulting fee for helping broker the sale of Miami HMO; and some physicians providing poor patient care—and even felony convictions—had received HMO contracts. After their stories were published, the state senator resigned, the state imposed background checks for HMO owners and cut payment rates to the organizations by millions of dollars, and the governor asked a statewide grand jury to be convened to probe corruption into problems in Medicaid HMOs.

Chris Adams

The Times-Picayune

The Times Picayune investigation questioned why health outcomes for the poor had not improved while Louisiana’s spending on Medicaid had grown 400 percent. The reporting revealed that politically connected hospitals and nursing home owners made enormous profits while Medicaid spending quadrupled; physicians made $1 million a year while billing for more than 24 hours of care per day; and at least 20 members of the state legislature had approved spending increases for Medicaid while they ran Medicaid-dependent businesses and foundations. As a result of the reporting, the FBI opened an investigation into the governor’s awarding of nursing home licenses and the attorney general opened criminal investigations into two high-dollar earning physicians.

1994

Two winners

Jeff Brazil

Los Angeles Times

Jeff Brazil of the Los Angeles Times found that the Federal Aviation Administration waited a long time after a fatal Boeing 757 crash to introduce changes to air safety rules around wake turbulence hazards. The three-part series showed that such lapses within the FAA cost hundreds of lives. The FAA was reticent to provide Brazil documents through the Freedom of Information Act, but when it was forced to do so, Brazil discovered that the agency did not have procedures to identify and avert airline safety problems. As a result of his reporting, a House subcommittee held a hearing, and the FAA administrator promised to create more efficient safety methods within 60 days.

Read the series.

Ralph Blumenthal and Douglas Frantz

The New York Times

Spurred to report after the worst American aviation disaster since 1987, Blumenthal and Frantz’s investigation revealed USAir’s troubled history of safety issues, delays and regulations. Their stories described a broken system of faulty training programs, pilot error and false pilot certification. As a result of their reporting, the airline hired a new chief of safety operations and established a new pre-flight refueling procedure to ensure planes would not take off without sufficient fuel.

Read the series.

Honorable mention

Tim Heider and Joel Rutchick

Plain Dealer

SAFE Fund Investments

1993

Craig Flournoy and Randy Lee Loftis

The Dallas Morning News

Reporters from The Dallas Morning News exposed a government housing plan that would have forced thousands of poor black families to live in squalid conditions: The proposed neighborhood would have been on a Superfund toxic contamination site. The series revealed conflicts of interest in the plan and as a result of the reporters’ months-long reporting, support for the plan disintegrated.

1992

David Boardman, Susan Gilmore, Eric Nalder and Eric Pryne

The Seattle Times

The Seattle Times told the stories of eight women who had been sexually harassed and physically molested by U.S. Senator Brock Adams of Washington over a period of two decades. Their allegations ranged from sexual harassment to rape, and stories revealed Adams tried to seduce women into sex with drugs or alcohol. Their reporting also found he tried to bribe women with money. Soon after the Times ran its front-page story, Adams quit the race for a second term in the Senate.

Read the story.

1991

Richard Behar

TIME Magazine

This cover story exposed the Church of Scientology as a ruthless money-making cult and financial scam aiming to spread its interests globally. The special report showed how the church squeezed millions of dollars from followers and prevented many from leaving the group through intimidation and blackmail. As a result of the story, Behar fell victim to the church’s methods of harassment, and a million dollar publicity campaign was started by the church to discredit him.

1990

Keith McKnight, Bob Paynter and Andrew Zajac

Akron Beacon Journal

More than a year’s worth of investigative reports detailed how businesses and political action committees easily influenced Ohio lawmakers by donating millions of dollars in campaign contributions. Many of the “donations” were in fact solicited by the lawmakers themselves. The series was followed by overwhelming defeats of several incumbents implicated in the “pay-to-play” scandal as well as prompting Ohio’s newly-elected secretary of state to pursue campaign finance reform.

Honorable mention

Tom Knudson

Sacramento Bee

Reform of 1872 mining law

1989

Jenni Bergal and Fred Schulte

Ft. Lauderdale News and Sun-Sentinel

This is a series on how the Florida social welfare system failed thousands of needy clients. Through computer analysis and various lawsuits filed by the Ft. Lauderdale newspaper, Bergal and Schulte cited some of the causes of neglect by welfare agencies and identified those responsible. The series led to legislative investigations and a call for reform from community leaders and advocacy groups.

1988

Bill Dedman

The Atlanta Journal/The Atlanta Constitution

This four-part series detailed what amounted to institutional racism from Atlanta’s banks and savings and loans. Dedman spent five month researching and writing about how most Atlanta blacks — regardless of financial status — fell victim to redlining. Shortly after publication of the series, Atlanta banks and S&Ls acquiesced in narrowing the lending gap and set aside $65 million in loans for home improvements and purchases.

1987

Staff and Editors

Newsday

In a ten-part investigative series, 20 reporters and three editors of Newsday spent more than half a year looking at the devastating consequences of America’s apathy toward garbage. The series showed how hundreds of millions of dollars were being squandered on different methods of dumping garbage into landfills and high-priced, insufficient incinerators. The series also proposed ways in which cities and towns could save their citizens millions in taxes, not to mention make a profound effect on the environment, simply by recycling.

1986

Robert Woodward

The Washington Post

This series of articles revealed the Reagan Administration’s pattern of covert operations and propaganda wars used as a kind of foreign policy. Months of on-going research and interviews showed how a cloud of secrecy followed the U.S. government’s dealings with various friendly and not so friendly countries. The series also showed how the American press was used by the government to spread disinformation and cited examples of American news reports that were later proven to be completely false.

1985

David Ashenfelter, Larry Kostecke and Michael Wagner

Detroit Free Press

A six-part series questioned the Michigan Corrections Department’s practices on prisoner release. Nine months of exhaustive research using the department’s complicated computerized record-keeping system revealed an alarming number of repeat offenses by prisoners released early due to overcrowding and scores of escapes due to lax security. Shortly after the series was published, investigations from both the Michigan House and Senate were started and legislation forcing prison officials from releasing prisoners early was enacted.

1984

Two winners

Brooks Jackson and David Rogers

The Wall Street Journal

This series of articles looked into political committees used as fronts by the Walter Mondale presidential campaign in order to evade limits on campaign contributions and expenditures. “Delegate committees” for the presidential candidate seemed to be independent organizations but in reality were taking direct orders from the Mondale camp. Documented proof showed Mondale staff employees being transferred from campaign to delegate committee payrolls. After publication of the series, the Mondale campaign paid the largest financial forfeiture in the history of Federal campaign law enforcement for its misdeed.

Chris Collins and John Hanchette

Gannett News Service

This twelve-part series described the unsafe nature of the various vaccines children are required by law to take. Many children ended up crippled or retarded for life by reactions from tainted vaccines. The series also focused on how some in the medical, scientific, academic and pharmaceutical communities profited greatly by keeping safer, inexpensive vaccines off the market. The series led to the admission of safer vaccines and passage of the National Childhood Vaccine Injuries Act, which compensates families with vaccine? damaged children.

1983

Dennis Camire, Mark Rohner and Sharon Johnson

Gannett News Service

A series investigating fraud and mismanagement in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers Home Administration (FmHA). Focusing on FmHA operations in Mississippi, the series found wealthy plantation owners living lavishly while drawing multi-million dollar low-interest government loans meant to help cash-strapped farmers recover from disaster losses. Other loans went to farmers already so hopelessly indebted that they had no realistic chance of repaying. Political influence played a part in many of the questionable loans. The series led to efforts to collect loans from some borrowers mentioned in the series. FmHA officials were called before Congressional committees to answer questions about abuses uncovered in the series.

1982

Alan Green, Bill Hogan and Diane Kiesel

The New Republic

This article showed how the majority of incumbent members of the House of Representatives used campaign funds as personal expense accounts by maneuvering through legal loopholes or simply ignoring House rules. Tax-free money that should have been used exclusively for campaign purposes ended up being squandered on family vacations to Hawaii and Europe, cars, clothes, furniture and other purchases unrelated to campaigns.

1981

Patrick Oster and Bruce Ingersoll

Chicago Sun-Times

It was a prosperous time for the military industry during the early Reagan years. Billions of dollars were being poured into new aircraft, tanks and weapons technology — but was it really all worth it? In an eight-month series of articles, Oster and Ingersoll showed how military spending soared while the stock of military hardware actually shrunk. Several pricey, newer, high-tech versions of jets, tanks and missiles were shown to be less reliable than their older counterparts.

1980

Two winners

Ralph Soda

Gannett News Service

A tip from an industrial executive led to this news-breaking series on an attempt by two brothers to comer the world’s silver market. Following the dramatic climb in world silver prices, Soda pursued a trail that led to billionaires Nelson and Herbert Hunt — a pair of brothers from Texas who manipulated world silver prices by hoarding a large market share of the precious metal. The plan called for eventually bartering the silver for oil from various Arab nations. The series was followed by several Federal investigations and a Congressional hearing.

Ted Gup and Jonathan Neumann

The Washington Post

This five-part series exposed how companies bribed federal government officials with money, trips and high-priced prostitutes in order to be awarded lucrative government consulting contracts. In many instances, these contracts were awarded to companies that had an unquestionable conflict of interest. For example, an official study on the safety of off? shore drilling was contracted to a subsidiary of Exxon, a company that benefited from the favorable report written. The series prompted two Congressional hearings, a cabinet-level meeting of the Carter Administration, the reassignment of government higher-ups and the investigations of several government contracts.

1979

John Fialka

Washington Star

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan reaffirmed the nation’s need for a strong and efficient military. But the question of how responsive our military was came to light during a secret military exercise in Europe called “Nifty Nugget.” As this three-part series revealed, the results were anything but nifty. The counterattack plan was to be in response to a Soviet attack from Eastern Europe. But results of the Cold War exercise revealed an astonishing number of shortcomings including providing enough uniforms for troops. The series was followed by a major upheaval in the Pentagon and its revelations led to the Reagan build-up of military hardware and personnel.

1978

David Hess

Akron Beacon Journal

In more than 50 articles David Hess reported how a breakdown in the internal chemistry of Firestone’s steel belted radial tires resulted in hundreds of accidents, many serious injuries and a number of deaths nationwide. The tire company continued to manufacture the tires even after it became apparent that there was something wrong with them. The series prompted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into forcing the tire company’s recall of 10 million tires — the largest tire recall in history.

1977

Michael J. Sniffen and Richard E. Meyer

The Associated Press

This news-breaking article detailed Budget Director Burt Lance’s success in obtaining two separate bank loans using the same stock as collateral. The improper act was uncovered by Sniffen and Meyer in a six-inch high stack of documents released by the Comptroller of the Currency investigating Lance’s finances. The story was later cited by Carter Administration officials as the driving force behind Lance’s eventual resignation.

1976

Morton Mintz

The Washington Post

This in-depth, seven-part series exposed the shady relationship between the medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry. Mintz uncovered a history of abuse including the unnecessary and harmful prescription of drugs, deceptive pharmaceutical advertisements, the drug industry’ attempts to hush up the risks of certain drugs, and obvious, but undetected, conflicts of interest.

1975

James Risser

The Des Moines Register

From more than six months of investigative work, Risser details how a corrupt grain exporting business ripped off several client countries with adulterated and short-weighted shipments of grain. It was also discovered that some shipments contaminated by oil, insects and trash still passed inspections through bribery. The series led to a shake-up of the Department of Agriculture, the conviction of key participants in the scandal and stiff penalties for the companies involved.

1974

Maxine Cheshire

The Washington Post

It was never a state secret that, as a matter of protocol, U.S. officials and their families routinely accepted gifts from foreign leaders and dignitaries. But what did seem a secret was just where all these state gifts ended up. Cheshire’s inquiry into the whereabouts of a vast treasure of gifts prompted First Lady Pat Nixon and others to hand over millions of dollars worth of jewelry to the government, thus preventing what could have been the biggest jewel heist in U.S. history. Shortly after the four-month series was published, an official investigation into the matter began, a new reporting system was created and the Ford administration impounded gifts and gift records held by the Nixon family.

1973

Jerry Landauer

The Wall Street Journal

During a time of political turmoil for President Nixon, his administration was dealt another blow in the form of a criminal investigation of Vice President Spiro Agnew. In a series of four articles, Landauer shows how perks can corrupt politicians. Agnew’s own perks, reported Landauer, included hundreds of thousands of unsolicited dollars for campaign and private use and a regularly-stocked kitchen with everything om food to liquor — all free of charge. Many of Agnew’s contributors were rewarded with lucrative government contracts. As a result of the growing inquiry into his dealings, the Vice President pleaded no-contest to income-tax evasion and resigned his post.

1972

Robert Woodward and Carl Bernstein

The Washington Post

What at first appeared to be a simple break-in at the Democratic National Headquarters at the Watergate complex turned into one of the biggest political scandals of all time. Bernstein and Woodward’s six-month series followed a trail of public trust violations, including evasion, bribery, burglary and illegal covert operations, by members of the Nixon Administration. The series was followed by the convictions of several Nixon cronies, a shakeup of his administration and ultimately the downfall of the President.

1971

Frank Wright

Minneapolis Tribune

A nine-month series of articles showed how lobbying groups easily swayed or even turned around government decisions by making significant financial contributions to politicians and their parties. To avoid exceeding contribution limits, lobby groups simply handed the money over to several dummy political campaign committees. But there was no doubt about where the money was going. Wright followed the dairy industry’s successful efforts to reverse a decision that ultimately cost taxpayers more than $300 million. As a result of this series, campaign contribution laws changed and consumer advocate Ralph Nader filed a Federal Court suit against the Nixon Administration’s dairy policy reversal.

1970

James Clayton

The Washington Post

A series of editorials criticized President Nixon’s nominee to the Supreme Court. During more than two months of confirmation hearings over the nomination of G. Harrold Carswell, Clayton argued that the judge’s poor civil rights record and the extraordinarily high reversal percentage of his court decisions by higher courts made him a weak candidate for the open seat. Carswell was also criticized for selling a lot in a Florida resort area with a “whites only” restriction in the deed. Carswell’s eventual rejection by the Senate drew condemnation from Vice President Spiro Agnew, who blamed the defeat on the “liberal media.”

1969

Seymour Hersh

Dispatch News Service

Soldiers called it “Pinksville,” the Vietnamese called it Song My, but the events that took place in this small Vietnamese village will always be remembered as the My Lai Massacre. Traveling throughout the United States, Hersh interviewed scores of participants who confirmed the slaughter by American soldiers of hundreds of Vietnamese villagers, mostly women and children. The stories profoundly shook the will of many Americans who had never questioned America’s involvement in the war.

1968

Special Assignment Team

The Associated Press

The team, made up of about 10 reporters, included veteran journalists Donald Rothberg, Harry Rosenthal, Gaylord Shaw, Richard Barnes and Jean Heller. The entry was an on-going collection of reports on various ways the Federal Government wasted millions of tax-payers’ dollars. One series questioned the Pentagon’s decision to award a weapons contract to General Motors despite the auto-maker’s astronomical asking price, which was 2-3 times higher than the next highest bid. Another series dealt with Hawaii sugar growers Castle & Coo: bilking the government out of millions of dollars worth of subsidies by posing as several different companies. Among other things, the series prompted Congress into changing government practices, making cost a factor, and it forced various federal agencies to take a more in-depth look at when their money was going.

1967

William Lambert

LIFE

Two separate pieces questioned Missouri Senator Edward V. Long’s association with clients connected with the mob and the financial rewards accrued by Long through this relationship. It was asserted that the senator used his position as a subcommittee chairman to influence hearings involving people of questionable character, including the infamous labor boss Jimmy Hoffa. The stories led to Congressional investigations of Long and questioned this type of influence peddling as well as the “renting” of a member of Congress’ name.