March 13, 2009
Contact:
Jacqueline Cartier, NPR


   

NPR NEWS WINS 2008 SCRIPPS HOWARD FOUNDATION
NATIONAL JOURNALISM AWARD
FOR FOUR-PART SERIES “DIRTY MONEY”

NPR’S JOHN BURNETT AND MARISA PENALOZA
RECEIVE JACK R. HOWARD AWARD, MARKING EXCELLENCE IN RADIO REPORTING




March 13, 2009; Washington, D.C. – NPR News has been honored with the Scripps Howard Foundation’s National Journalism Foundation Award for “Dirty Money,” an enterprising four-part series investigating the drug money that flows along America’s highways from NPR News correspondent John Burnett. Burnett shares the 2008 Jack R. Howard Award for “Excellence in Radio Reporting” with National Desk Editor Quinn O’Toole, National Desk Producer Marisa Penaloza and Digital News Editor Tanya Ballard-Brown. The Jack R. Howard Award recognizes and celebrates the year’s best work in journalism.

The series, which aired in June 2008 on NPR News’ Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition, examined law enforcement’s pursuit of suspected drug money, which they can confiscate without filing charges against the person carrying it. Local police and sheriffs get to keep a portion of the cash. Complete audio of the award-winning series is available at: www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91856663

With reporting in Texas, Alabama and Georgia, Burnett revealed that some local law enforcement agencies have become more interested in seizing money than stopping the flow of drugs. Burnett found case after case of misused forfeiture funds, with departments using the money to pay for awards banquets and Christmas parties, leases of vehicles and a margarita machines.

Burnett is no stranger to covering the drug war. In 2007, he was the lead reporter on NPR News’ 7-part series “The Forgotten War,” which examined the state of America’s war on drugs. His “Cocaine Republics” series in 2004 detailed the emergence of Central America as a major drug smuggling region.

The 55th annual National Journalism Awards will be presented at a ceremony on April 24 in Washington, D.C. The National Journalism Awards are granted by the Scripps Howard Foundation, recognizing and aiming to advance the free press through excellence in journalism. This is the second National Journalism Award for NPR.