Raquel Rutledge of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Wins Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting
March 24, 2010
CAMBRIDGE, MASS – The $25,000 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting has been awarded to Raquel Rutledge of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy for her investigative report “Cashing In on Kids." The Shorenstein Center is part of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
In her year-long series covering Wisconsin’s child-care subsidy program, Raquel Rutledge exposed a system plagued by fraud, deceit and criminal activity which cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and put children in danger. Her reporting led to criminal probes and indictments and prompted lawmakers to pass new laws aimed at eliminating fraud and keeping criminals out of the day care business.
“Her work was extraordinary – moving, shocking, rigorous, and devastatingly revealing,” said Alex S. Jones, director of the Shorenstein Center.
Launched in 1991, the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting honors journalism which promotes more effective and ethical conduct of government, the making of public policy, or the practice of politics by disclosing excessive secrecy, impropriety and mismanagement.
The Goldsmith Awards Program is funded by an annual grant from the Goldsmith Fund of the Greenfield Foundation.
The five finalists for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting were:
- Sean P. Murphy of The Boston Globe for “Gaming the System: Public Pensions the Massachusetts Way.”
Sean P. Murphy exposed how state officials used loopholes in the state retirement system to enrich themselves at taxpayers’ expense. His investigation prodded the Massachusetts State Legislature to enact new legislation and to overhaul existing pension laws. The story also led two ex-legislators to publicly renounce thousands of dollars in future pension benefits.
- Mark Greenblatt, David Raziq, Keith Tomshe, Robyn Hughes and Chris Henao of KHOU-TV, Houston, TX for “Under Fire: Discrimination and Corruption in the Texas National Guard”
KHOU-TV exposed rampant sexual discrimination, abuses of power, cover-ups to Congress, financial corruption and theft by the National Guard’s top commanding generals. As a result, the accused commanders were fired; the FBI and DA launched criminal probes and three new state laws have been passed, requiring better oversight of the Guard.
- J. Andrew Curliss and Staff, The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC), “Executive Privilege: The Perks of Power”
The News & Observer’s year-long investigation of former North Carolina Governor Mike Easley revealed how Easley accepted numerous unreported gifts from supporters in return for political influence and “sweet deals.” Their reporting launched state and federal criminal investigations, led to resignations and firings, exposed election law violations and spurred government reforms.
- A.C. Thompson, ProPublica and The Nation Institute, In collaboration with Gordon Russell, Laura Maggi and Brendan McCarthy, The New Orleans Times-Picayune; Tom Jennings, Frontline, “Law and Disorder”
ProPublica’s A.C. Thompson, in collaboration with journalists from The Nation, The New Orleans Times-Picayune and PBS’s Frontline, exposed the existence of white vigilante violence and questions about the New Orleans Police Department’s use of deadly force in the days after Hurricane Katrina. This series provoked an FBI investigation resulting in a federal grand jury examining police conduct.
- Joe Stephens, Lena H. Sun and Lyndsey Layton, The Washington Post, “Death on the Rails”
Reporters from The Washington Post uncovered repeated lapses in safety in Washington’s Metro subway system and a systemic breakdown in safety oversight. As a result of their series, the Metro has instituted sweeping reorganization and there has been congressional demand for reform. The federal government also announced it would move to take over regulation of subways and light rail systems across the nation.
The Goldsmith Book Prize is awarded to the best academic and best trade books that seek to improve the quality of government or politics through an examination of press and politics in the formation of public policy.
The Goldsmith Book Prize for best academic book was awarded to Matthew Hindman for “The Myth of Digital Democracy.”
The Goldsmith Book Prize for best trade book went to John Maxwell Hamilton for “Journalism’s Roving Eye: A History of American Foreign Reporting.”
The Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism was given to David Fanning, Executive Producer, Frontline.