An Associated Press article published last month highlighted that public media is building up its investigative reporting capacity ..."as newspapers and TV networks cut their staffs and cable television stations have filled their schedules with more opinion journalism."
NPR News' deep-digging efforts were honored today with a 2010 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for "Prison Profiting: Behind Arizona's Immigration Law."
NPR Investigations Correspondent Laura Sullivan
Reported by NPR Correspondent Laura Sullivan, "Prison Profiting" detailed gatherings that bring together state legislators with representatives of powerful corporations and associations, and how one organization facilitates the shaping of state laws with little scrutiny. In two reports that aired in October 2010 on the NPR newsmagazine Morning Edition, she revealed how Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce discussed the idea for the bill with a membership organization of state legislators and powerful corporations and associations – including the largest private prison company in the country – called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and the secretive way ALEC allows companies to author "model bills" with the state legislators.
"Prison Profiting" was produced by Anne Hawke, and edited by Deputy Managing Editor of Investigations Susanne Reber and Senior National Editor Steven Drummond.
The judges praised the series by saying, "While most news outlets focused on the consequences of the bill that allowed police to lock up anyone they stop who cannot show proof of legal residency, NPR's investigation went behind the scenes. The judges thought NPR's decision to look at the law as a new business model made this entry the overwhelming winner in the category."
The IRE also named the NPR News Investigation Home or Nursing Home: America's Empty Promise to Give the Elderly and Disabled a Choice a finalist in the radio category. Brain Wars: How the Military is Failing the Wounded, an investigation from NPR News and ProPublica, was named a finalist in the digital category.
The IRE Award completes a hat trick of sorts for Sullivan and Drummond. They recently received a a duPont-Columbia Silver Baton Award and Peabody Award for their three-part investigative series "Behind the Bail Bond System" that revealed deep and costly flaws in the U.S. justice system's bail bond process.
Congratulations to all the winners for this well-deserved recognition of their difficult and important work. You can find more information on the IRE Awards at their website.