Investigative Reporters & Editors Awards

A still from “On Shaky Ground” – California Watch and KQED’s award-winning piece of investigative journalism.

California Watch and KQED received IRE’s highest honor for “On Shaky Ground.”

California Watch, a nonpartisan group of investigative journalists, and the San Francisco pubcaster won the IRE Medal for what the judges called “an extraordinary effort examining seismic safeguards in place to protect California’s schoolchildren from earthquakes.” The 19-month project produced stories published in 150 news outlets that eventually forced state lawmakers to create new standards for repairing seismic hazards.

Cited for the award were Corey G. Johnson, Erica Perez, Kendall Taggart, Agustin Armendariz, Michael Montgomery, Anna Werner, Chase Davis, Michael Corey, Carrie Ching, Ashley Alvarado and Krissy Clark. “On Shaky Ground” also won an IRE award in the multiplatform–medium category.

The IRE Award in the multiplatform–large category went to ProPublica, NPR and Frontline for “Post Mortem: Death Investigation in America.” Judges praised the project for showing that “death investigations are a patchwork of different systems that bear little resemblance to the work seen on television shows such as CSI.”

ProPublica staffers cited for the award included A.C. Thompson, Chisun Lee, Marshall Allen, Aarti Shahani, Mosi Secret, Krista Kjellman Schmidt, Al Shaw, Jennifer LaFleur and Robin Fields; from NPR, Joe Shapiro, Sandra Bartlett, Coburn Dukeheart, John Poole and Susanne Reber; from Frontline, Lowell Bergman, Carl Byker, Andres Cediel, Arun Rath, Raney Aronson-Rath and David Fanning; and Ryan Gabrielson from the Investigative Reporting Program at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

NPR’s Ina Jaffe and Quinn O’Toole won the IRE Award in the radio/audio category for “Rising Violence in California Psychiatric Hospitals,” an investigation inspired by last year’s murder of a hospital worker by a patient. “But the reporting went beyond simply showing cases of assault,” said the judges. “It linked the rise in violence to government policies and inaction by psychiatric hospitals, which rarely forwarded cases to the district attorneys for prosecution.”

Established in 1979, the IRE Awards recognize outstanding investigative work and help identify the techniques and resources used to complete each story. This year’s awards were presented at the 2012 IRE Conference in Boston June 14–17.

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