Winners and Finalists : 2011 Winners
Excellence in Local Reporting
Andrew McLemore, 25, of The Williamson County (Texas) Sun for, "Until Proven Innocent"
For 25 years, Michael Morton was falsely imprisoned for the murder of his wife. Andrew McLemore retraced nearly three decades of evidence, records and interviews in his three-part series to explain how this extreme miscarriage of justice occurred. DNA evidence finally proved Morton’s innocence, and McLemore’s reporting showed that the guilty verdict was a by-product of evidence gathered by the lead investigator being withheld by the prosecuting attorney’s office.
Andrew McLemore, 25
“I wasn’t trying to prove Morton’s innocence—that was already clear—I was trying to show that the justice system had failed, that his wrongful conviction was not a blind mistake, but the result of arrogance and fear,” McLemore said. “The conclusion was a sad statement about human nature, I think. Make people afraid enough, and they’ll see a demon in their grandmother.”
Excellence in National Reporting
Olga Pierce, 32, Jeff Larson, 30 and Lois Beckett, 25, of ProPublica for, "Redistricting: How Powerful Hands Are Drawing You Out of A Vote"
This investigation into the politics of redistricting began when a team of reporters attempted to find a mathematical or statistical explanation behind the decisions that were made. Their three-part series revealed manipulation by corporations, unions, special interests and political parties.
Olga Pierce, 32, Jeff Larson, 30, and Lois Beckett, 25
“We realized district lines are just a piece of the puzzle. Redistricting provides many outlets for the powerful to manipulate a process that, ironically, is intended to protect the principle of one person, one vote,” said a team member. “We soon realized that this exploitation of the process was the real story, so we tracked down lobbying and campaign finance records, read thousands of pages of public testimony, watched hours of hearings and even traveled to neighborhoods that were negatively impacted. We even read hundreds of tweets on Twitter.”
Excellence in International Reporting
Mattathias Schwartz, 32, of The New Yorker for, "A Massacre in Jamaica"
Schwartz took a year-old story about the 2010 extradition of Jamaican drug lord Christopher Coke, and re-reported the facts of the shooting assault on a neighborhood which was believed to be Coke’s hiding place. Schwartz showed that most of the 74 people killed in the Tivoli Garden area were civilians, and were murdered by Jamaican security forces after the shooting stopped. He also revealed the existence of video footage shot from a surveillance aircraft during the attack and passed onto U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Mattathias Schwartz, 32
“One would think that the federal government would be interested in releasing as much information as possible about the death of a young U.S. citizen, along with dozens of Jamaicans, in an operation assisted by the U.S. government and carried out, to a large degree, at its behest,” Schwartz said. “This was not the case.”