Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting has been named a finalist for four Online Journalism Awards – including one for general excellence for its website – and two News & Documentary Emmy Awards.
Announced this week by the Online News Association, finalists were selected for “pushing the envelope of innovation and excellence in digital storytelling and distribution.”
The ONA’s general excellence in online journalism award nomination follows an overhaul of Reveal’s website, revealnews.org, completed in January. It focused on improving the reading experience on mobile, desktop and tablet; better organizing and highlighting regular content; and providing seamless listening and viewing experiences on all platforms.
Reveal’s investigation The Dark Side of the Strawberry was named a finalist in the medium-sized innovation in investigative journalism category, named for former Gannett executive and USA Today founder Al Neuharth. The investigation showed how California strawberry growers are hooked on a dangerous class of pesticides and, along with chemical companies, have exploited loopholes in local regulations and global treaties to keep using these chemicals. Journalists Bernice Yeung, Kendall Taggart, Andrew Donohue, Michael Corey and Ariane Wu were named in the nomination.
Other finalists in the category are Undue Force, a piece by The Baltimore Sun tackling the $5.7 million paid by the city since 2011 in police brutality lawsuits, and Up in Flames, a four-part series by the San Antonio Express-News about the impact of bleeding off gas by flaring in the Eagle Ford Shale.
Two radio stories produced in collaboration with Reveal also were honored by the ONA.
The Knight Award for Public Service finalist is Criminalizing Kids, in which Susan Ferriss of The Center for Public Integrity showed that Virginia schools were referring students to law enforcement at a rate three times the national average. Ferriss opened her story with the tale of Kayleb Moon-Robinson, an 11-year-old with autism who was charged with disorderly conduct in juvenile court after a tantrum. Ferriss’ radio piece ran on Reveal’s nationally syndicated public radio show in April.
In the pro-am student projects category, Assault on Justice by WAMU and the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University was honored for its analysis of nearly 2,000 cases in which people were cited for assaulting a police officer. It found that 90 percent were black and nearly two-thirds were not charged with any other crime – an eerie foreshadowing of Sandra Bland’s arrest in Texas two months later. Reveal was a partner on the story, producing an in-depth radio story that aired on public radio stations nationwide in May.
Earlier this summer, Reveal was nominated for two national News & Documentary Emmy Awards for an animated video about juvenile solitary confinement and an investigation into the Chinese takeover of Smithfield Foods.
“The Box” was nominated in the new approaches: current news coverage category. It allowed viewers to experience the deprivation of a solitary confinement cell at Rikers Island through the words of former teen inmate Ismael “Izzy” Nazario. The video was directed by Michael I Schiller based on reporting by Trey Bundy and Daffodil J. Altan. Illustrations by Anna Vignet drew on details from sources who spent time in solitary cells and reflected the cells’ actual dimensions and materials.
The animation was part of a larger investigation into juvenile solitary confinement by Bundy and Altan, including text, radio and television components, which informed the national debate.
Reveal’s coverage of the Chinese purchase of Smithfield Foods – two years after China’s government issued an edict directing its food industry to scour the globe in search of agricultural resources – aired on PBS NewsHour in mid-September. The investigation by Nathan Halverson proved through documents that the U.S. Congress was misled into thinking the Chinese company was not controlled by the Communist Party.
Nominated for outstanding business and economic reporting in a regularly scheduled newscast, the story was produced by Halverson and Amanda Pike in collaboration with Senior Editor Andrew Donohue. David Ritsher edited the video, and Sharon Tiller was an executive producer, along with Linda Winslow from NewsHour. It, too, was part of a multiplatform package.
Winners of the ONA awards will be announced Sept. 26 at the organization’s annual conference in Los Angeles. The news Emmys will be awarded Sept. 28 at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall in New York.