The Most Badass, Hardcore Investigative Journalism of the Year Acknowledged at Harvard

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Every year I attend the Goldsmith Prize presentation for investigative reporting at Harvard. The ceremony – hosted by the Kennedy School of Government's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy – is always inspirational, and has certainly pushed me to bust balls and pursue tougher stories in my own career. The Goldsmith medal honors the most hard-nosed detail diggers in the business – men and women who impact policy and lives for the better through their work.

Checking out this week's 21st anniversary of the award, I got to thinking about the generic running line that so-called mainstream, traditional media is negligent if not inconsequential. I won't disagree for a second that the majority of broadsheets and newscasts offer sad excuses for reporting. But there are still plenty of examples of deep spelunking, of hardcore reporting in a day and age when courageous muckraking is more of an exception than the norm.

There's a difference between journalists like this year's Goldsmith-nominated New York Times writers, who exposed a rash of physical and systemic abuse in New York's group home system for the developmentally disabled, and what so many self-styled partisan Web martyrs engage in. It's also a leap from the gotcha nonsense practiced by five o'clock news snipers everywhere. These reporters aren't chasing horny politicians across parking lots to ask questions about their online dick pics.

In the words of Shorenstein director Alex Jones, a Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times veteran, these nominees reflect “a high point for American journalism” – ABC's 10-month investigation into the violent side of the Peace Corps, ProPublica's examination of institutional racism in the Justice Department's presidential pardon process. The purpose of the Goldsmith, says Jones, isn't just to acknowledge one winner, but to bring attention to all of the finalists. We couldn't agree more.

The Runners-Up...

Brian Ross, Anna Schecter and the ABC News Investigative Team

ABC News 20/20

"Peace Corps: A Trust Betrayed"

Jim Morris, Ronnie Greene, Chris Hamby and Keith Epstein, Center for Public Integrity and
Elizabeth Shogren, Howard Berkes, Sandra Bartlett and Susanne Reber

National Public Radio

"Poisoned Places: Toxic Air, Neglected Communities"

Mark Greenblatt, David Raziq and Keith Tomshe

KHOU-TV (CBS Houston)

"A Matter of Risk: Radiation, Drinking Water, and Deception"

Danny Hakim and Russell Buettner

The New York Times

"Abused and Used"

Dafna Linzer and Jennifer LaFleur

ProPublica (co-published with The Washington Post)

"Presidential Pardons"

Special Citation:Bradley Keoun, Phil Kuntz, Bob Ivry, Craig Torres, Scott Lanman and Christopher Condon

Bloomberg News

"The Fed's Trillion-Dollar Secret"


The Winners...

Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eileen Sullivan and Chris Hawley

Associated Press

"NYPD Intelligence Division"

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