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Five Center for Public Integrity projects garner awards in journalism contests

Center for Public Integrity investigations involving the opioid crisis, state insurance commissioners, South Sudan, broadband access and offshore corporations have been honored in recent days by prestigious journalism competitions.

The Center was a winner in three categories of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers “Best in Business” competition, while taking a first place and a second place prize in the Association of Health Care Journalists’ awards for excellence.

“These wins showcased several deep-dive, investigative projects that covered a host of issues,” said John Dunbar, the Center’s chief executive officer. “The awards show it’s possible to write about complex topics in clear and compelling ways.”

In the business journalism contest, the Center was a winner in the international category for smaller publications for “Rape, murder, famine — and $2.1 million for K Street PR,” which detailed how Washington spinmeisters earned huge paychecks to help one of the world’s most murderous governments polish its image on Capitol Hill.

Judges noted that Erin Quinn’s story was enlivened “by featuring a former Sudanese ‘Lost Boy’ who called the fees received by K Street firms ‘blood money.’” The piece was edited by Gordon Witkin and John Dunbar.

The Center also won the technology category for smaller publications with “Rich people have access to high-speed Internet; many poor people still don’t.” The multimedia project showed that there is still a deep divide in America regarding access to high-speed Internet connections.

Judges commented that the “incredibly informative” package was “well-researched… enlightening and, at times, shocking.” The main story was written by Allan Holmes, with data reporting and visualizations by Ben Wieder and Chris Zubak-Skees. A companion video was produced by Eleanor Bell Fox. Gordon Witkin edited the package.  

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ “Panama Papers” project took top prize in the banking/finance category for large publications. Judges said the investigation represented “exceptional journalism on a topic of international importance.”

The business award marked the Panama Papers project’s fifth major American journalism prize. ICIJ was a project of the Center for Public Integrity when the series was written but has since separated.

The contest awarded prizes across 65 categories. Among other winners: Bloomberg News, Fortune and the Wall Street Journal. Honorees will be celebrated on April 29 at the business editors and writers’ annual convention in Seattle.  

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