"Big Green," The Washington Post, Joe Stephens and David B. Ottaway
Judges' comments: The Post set out to profile an icon of environmentalism, the nonprofit Nature Conservancy, and uncovered a scandal. Joe Stephens and David Ottaway dug beneath the nonprofit's white-knight public image to find sweetheart land deals for insiders, drilling for oil in sensitive habitat, and a board of directors with executives from corporations known more for causing environmental problems than curing them.
"Crumbling Schools," The Miami Herald, Debbie Cenziper and Jason Grotto
Reporters Jason Grotto and Debbie Cenziper exposed decrepit, unsafe conditions in Miami school classroom buildings, hampering the education of thousands of students. The conditions persisted, even though the school district had spent $6 billion on construction and repairs in recent years. The reporters documented horrendous delays, fire and safety hazards, conflicts of interest and bad business deals. Their findings led to the resignation of the superintendent and top building officials and state scrutiny.
"Buried Secrets, Brutal Truths," The (Toledo, Ohio) Blade, Michael D. Sallah, Mitch Weiss and Joe Mahr
An astonishing story of brutal war crimes that stayed hidden for more than 35 years. Starting with a handful of memos found among old Army records, the Blade team uncovered the story of an elite unit called Tiger Force that went on a seven-month rampage in Vietnam in 1967 that killed hundreds of unarmed civilians, including women and children. Reporters Michael Sallah, Mitch Weiss and Joe Mahr tracked down 43 former Tiger Force soldiers, many of whom are haunted by the atrocities they committed or watched.
"Casualties of Peace," Dayton Daily News, Russell Carollo and Mei-Ling Hopgood
A gripping examination of what can happen when young, inexperienced Peace Corps volunteers are sent to dangerous places with little training or supervision. Reporters Russell Carollo and Mei-Ling Hopgood uncovered stories of the thousands of assaults, robberies, rapes and even murders since 1990 that turned Peace Corps volunteers into victims around the world.
"Profiting from Public Service," Asbury Park Press; Tom Baldwin; Bill Bowman; Alan Guenther; John Hazard; Rick Hepp; Pamela Kropf; Sandy McClure; Jason Method; Jean Mikle; Colleen O'Dea; James W. Prado Roberts; Richard Quinn; Erik Schwartz; Joseph P. Smith; Fred Snowflack; Lilo H. Stainton; Michael Symons; Jonathan Tamari and Paul D'Ambrosio
"The Station Fire," The Providence Journal; Paul Parker, Mark Arsenault, Tracy Breton, Michael Corkery, Cathleen F. Crowley, Edward Fitzpatrick, Jennifer Levitz, Michael P. McKinney, Zachary R. Mider, Tom Mooney and Jessica Resnick-Ault
"Murder, Race, Justice: The State vs. Darryl Hunt," Winston-Salem Journal, Phoebe Zerwick and Les Gura
On the surface, the trial of Darryl Hunt was a simple case of rape and murder. But it became much more -- a mirror of
racial attitudes and a test of scientific evidence that shook a North Carolina city for nearly two decades. The stories
-- and the well-done supplemental material on the paper's Web site -- masterfully describe how Hunt went to prison for 19 years for a crime he did not commit. This is a fascinating story that works both as an investigation of a flawed case and a peel-the-onion profile of the people who tried, and failed, to make the system work.
"Deep Trouble: The Gulf in Peril," Naples Daily News; Cathy Zollo, Eric Staats, Janine Zeitlin, Jeremy Cox, Alan Scher Zagier, Chad Gillis, Dianna Smith, Gina Edwards, Michael Peltier, Eric Strachan and Kori Rumore
"The War Within," Westword, Julie Jargon
"The War Within" is a great example of tackling a sensitive story at a powerful institution. Using an e-mail tip sent to all the local media, Westword beat all its competitors into print with the story of sexual abuse and rape at the Air Force Academy. While parts of this story were reported piecemeal over the years, the paper brought it all together. Westword followed its original story with a hard-hitting look at the Air Force Academy's honor system.
"A Dangerous Business," Frontline/New York Times Television/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; David Barstow, David Rummel, Neil Docherty, Lowell Bergman, Linden MacIntyre, Robin Stein, James Sandler, Nelli Kheyfets, Remy Weber, Jason Maloney, Lynda Baril, Louis Wiley Jr., David Fanning, Ann Derry and Lawrie Mifflin
A disturbing investigation into what is considered one of the most dangerous companies in America. Frontline showed how the McWane Corporation has amassed more safety violations than all of its major industry competitors combined, leaving employees maimed and killed. Frontline's investigation led to criminal charges against McWane managers and forced OSHA to implement tougher enforcement policies.
View a clip from the story.
"Chasing the Sleeper Cell," Frontline/New York Times Television; David Rummel, Lowell Bergman, Matthew Purdy, Remy Weber, James Sandler, Jason Maloney, Erika Trautman, Louis Wiley Jr., David Fanning, Ann Derry and Lawrie Mifflin
View a clip from the story.
"Honor and Betrayal: Scandal at the Academy," KMGH-Denver; Jeff Harris, John Ferrugia, Kurt Silver, Jason Foster and Byron Grandy
KMGH committed substantial resources and effort to lead the way on what is one of the biggest investigative stories of the year: The rapes and cover-ups at the United States Air Force Academy. From the first allegations of sexual assault to the massive shake-up of academy administration, this local news station owned the story -- prompting changes throughout the military.
View a clip from the story.
"Building Homes: Building Problems," WESH-Orlando; Stephen Stock, Michelle Meredith, Shannon Hori, Dave McDaniel, Kathy Marsh, Travis J. Sherwin, Jim Payne, Peter A. Delis, Mark Rice and Jason Morrow. This story was done in conjunction with the Orlando Sentinel.
"Perks of Power," WTVF-Nashville, Phil Williams and Bryan Staples
WTVF's documentary of abuses of power by state legislators and the president of the University of Tennessee is yet another example of this station's commitment to investigative journalism. In the wake of ethics reforms at the state Capitol, hidden cameras revealed cozy relationships continue between politicians and lobbyists. In a separate exposé, Williams artfully documented how the university president was spending for personal gain, while he was cutting the budget at the expense of students. Both projects changed the face of Tennessee, prompting the resignation of the president and placing new restrictions on lobbyists at the capitol.
View a clip from the story.
"U.S. Energy Policy," Time, James B. Steele and Donald L. Barlett
Exhaustive research and clear, real-life examples show how America's failure to stick to a consistent energy policy and its special-interest legislation for energy firms amount to an unnecessary hidden tax on Americans. Particularly outrageous were the findings about the synfuels credit -- the "spray and pray" process and lack of logic that is costing taxpayers millions of dollars.
"Big Money On Campus," U.S. News & World Report; Megan Barnett, Julian E. Barnes and Danielle Knight
"Handshake Hotels," WNYC New York Public Radio, Andrea Bernstein and Amy Eddings
WNYC provided listeners with an absorbing report inside the ramshackle world of New York City's "Hotels for the Homeless Program." Lax regulations and poor communication between city departments allowed administrators to spend $180 million a year on dangerous, dirty and derelict housing for the city's needy population. WNYC's reports forced the mayor to put an end to the handshake deals and begin to bring a measure of control to a rogue program.
"The Water Barons,"
Center for Public Integrity; William Marsden, Maud Beelman, Bill Allison, Erika Hobbs, Daniel Politi, Aron Pilhofer, Andre Verloy,
Laura Peterson and Samiya Edwards
"The Water Barons" is a sweeping, worldwide look at an issue that is rapidly escalating in the United States and elsewhere throughout the world. The graphic findings -- outbreaks of disease, unaffordable drinking water, lack of oversight -- paints a picture of what can happen when water policies go awry. This series could become a coverage blueprint for years to come.
"Gov. Bill Janklow's pardons & commutations," (Sioux Falls, S.D.) Argus Leader, David Kranz, Stu Whitney, Terry Woster, Jon Walker and Patrick Lalley
The Argus-Leader's work is a sterling example of a news organization working around a state's inadequate freedom of information law to monitor the affairs of a government's executive branch. What began as a single news story was the tip of the iceberg as the paper relentlessly pursued the existence of a massive secret pardons program rife with questions and conflicts for the governor. The story not only broke news, but changed South Dakota's freedom of information laws.
"Raising the Cap," The Daily Tar Heel; John Frank, Jamie Dougher, Matt Hanson, Joe Rauch, Suzanne Presto and Lynne Shallcross
The University of North Carolina's Daily Tar Heel produced "Raising the Cap," a comprehensive six-part series examining the university's plans to increase enrollment of out-of-state students. The student staff fought the administration for access to data comparing academic records and other factors involving in-state and out-of-state students. Staff members used a spreadsheet to examine differences and interviews that sometimes debunked arguments of the university administrators. They raised the level of debate on a crucial issue and the university responded by putting the issue on hold indefinitely.
"Public Land, Private Profit," The Sydney Morning Herald, Gerard Ryle and Brian Robins
A tip about a road closure led reporter Gerard Ryle of Australia's Sydney Morning Herald to a well-researched series of stories that uncovered how public property across the country was being leased to corporations, wealthy individuals and political donors at rates far below market value.