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How DocumentCloud Helped Award-Winning Investigations

Apr 14th, 2011


Amanda Hickman

Cross posted from PBS Idealab.

Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) announced their medal winners this week, and we were impressed to see that both winners wove DocumentCloud into their winning reporting. Since 1979, IRE has honored outstanding investigative work with their annual awards. This year they honored a Los Angeles Times series on outrageous salaries in one of California’s poorest towns and a collaboration between International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the BBC for a report on the global asbestos trade.

Breach of Faith

Los Angeles Times was awarded an IRE Medal for Breach of Faith. An investigation of financial impropriety in a small town revealed what turned out to be a dramatic case of corruption and mismanagement in the quiet city of Bell, California. Los Angeles Times reporters uncovered exorbitant city salaries (including compensation packages topping the million dollar mark) and errors in financial reporting that were more than just

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They used DocumentCloud to post the falsified salary information that city administrators had provided to concerned citizens years earlier, and the subsequent indictment of the administrators who provided those false records.

Dangers in the Dust

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International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the BBC share an IRE Medal for Dangers in the Dust: Inside the Global Asbestos Trade. Throughout their year-long reporting project, they added all manner of document source material to a growing archive of documents.

Great work, and congratulations to both teams.

More Prize-Winning Work

We’ve seen other prestigious journalism awards go to DocumentCloud users, too. Last month, Alex Richards and Marshall Allen (who has moved from the Las Vegas Sun to ProPublica since) were honored with the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, given each year by Harvard’s Shorenstein Center to honor investigative reporting that “promotes more effective and ethical conduct of government, the making of public policy, or the practice of politics” for their in-depth report on hospital care in Las Vegas.

Alongside each of the five stories that made up that award-winning coverage, Richards and Allen used DocumentCloud to share their source documents with readers. It’s great reporting and exactly the kind of work we imagined we could help support when we set about building DocumentCloud.

At least one finalist for the Goldsmith prize also put DocumentCloud to excellent use. ProPublica, NPR’s “Planet Money” and Chicago Public Radio’s “This American Life” collaborated on Betting Against the American Dream, an alarming expose of Wall Street’s role in exacerbating their own meltdown. ProPublic used DocumentCloud to detail correspondence with their uncooperative subjects.

Discuss How DocumentCloud Helped Award-Winning Investigations on PBS’s IdeaLab.