Nieman Fellows in the class of 2020 at Harvard University have selected Puerto Rico’s Centro de Periodismo Investigativo (CPI, the Center for Investigative Journalism) for the 2020 Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism.
The fellows chose to honor CPI for its relentless drive in investigating the most pressing issues on the island, including the government’s mismanagement of public funds; the death count after Hurricane Maria; the ongoing debt crisis; and the secret communications among the island’s top political leadership in an encrypted messaging app, which when revealed by CPI, sparked protests and ultimately led to Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s resignation from office.
The fellows noted that CPI has demonstrated the highest degree of conscience and integrity in its work uncovering political corruption. By calling for government transparency and filling in the gaps of truth with hard-nosed reporting, CPI has held the Puerto Rican government to account and demonstrated the power of fact finding.
Already well established before 2019, CPI gained widespread visibility far beyond Puerto Rico when it reported on leaked chat messages—totaling 889 pages of conversation—between Gov. Rosselló and many of his closest associates. The chats included homophobic and misogynistic comments and crude references to the victims of Hurricane Maria as well as discussions about how to control the press and discredit opponents. CPI’s reporting quickly led to demonstrations that unified many Puerto Ricans who demanded an end to corruption, leading to the governor’s resignation on July 24, 2019.
Based in San Juan, CPI is a nonprofit founded in 2007 by journalist Omaya Sosa Pascual and journalist and lawyer Oscar J. Serrano. The Center publishes investigative reporting that holds the powerful responsible for their actions. It is the first Puerto Rican news organization to receive the Lyons Award.
The Lyons Award will be presented to CPI’s executive director Carla Minet on Jan. 27, 2020 at Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation in Cambridge, Mass. CPI was selected for the Louis M. Lyons Award by the 27 members of the Nieman class of 2020, which includes journalists from around the globe.
The Nieman class of 1964 established the Louis M. Lyons Award in honor of the Nieman Foundation curator who retired that year after leading the institution for a quarter of a century. Lyons was a forceful advocate for freedom of the press. While he was curator of the Nieman Foundation, he broke new ground by diversifying the class of fellows to include women, minorities and international fellows. The award honors displays of conscience and integrity by individuals, groups or institutions in communications.
The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard educates leaders in journalism and elevates the standards of the profession through special programs that convene scholars and experts in all fields. More than 1,600 journalists from 99 countries have been awarded Nieman Fellowships since 1938. The foundation’s other initiatives include Nieman Reports, a website and print magazine that covers thought leadership in journalism, Nieman Lab, a website that reports on the future of news, innovation and best practices in the digital media age and Nieman Storyboard, a website that showcases exceptional narrative journalism and explores the future of nonfiction storytelling.