Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting has been named a finalist for four national awards from the Online News Association.
Stories about the border wall, worker deaths at Navy shipbuilders, abuse of women harvesting marijuana and activists finding their voices after Standing Rock were chosen as finalists for the ONA awards. The awards honor data journalism, visual digital storytelling, investigative journalism, public service, technical innovation and general excellence.
Judges chose finalists across 37 categories representing a broad spectrum of media outlets and emerging technology organizations. The winners will be announced at ONA’s conference in October.
Excellence in audio digital storytelling (large newsroom): The Wall
Journalists who produced the project include senior applications developer Michael Corey, senior reporter Katharine Mieszkowski; reporter Andrew Becker; data fellow Allison McCartney; producer Emily Harris; and Texas Tribune reporters Kiah Collier and Neena Satija.
The hour-long radio story examined President Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall along the Mexico border and where problems are most likely to happen. Reveal toured the border in Texas, California and Arizona to interview people on all sides of the issue and examined the potential toll on wildlife.
Our border coverage included a first-of-its-kind interactive map featuring locations and types of barriers that make up the 700 miles of existing fence. We put the data up on GitHub, and newsrooms such as Univision and The New York Times have used it to build their own visual journalism.
Using tools we developed to turn data into sound, we also mapped the border through a wall sonification and invited readers to make their own music about the wall using our sonification as a base.
The Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award (Medium): Lax Safety at the Shipyards
This investigation into dangerous conditions in shipyards that build vessels for the U.S. Navy by reporter Jennifer Gollan, producer Stan Alcorn and senior digital producer Aubrey Aden-Buie was presented online and in a Reveal show.
Gollan’s investigation focused on Mississippi-based shipbuilder VT Halter Marine Inc. and its failure to protect workers. A month after a deadly explosion that killed two workers and seriously injured five others, the Navy awarded the company an $87 million contract.
The investigation found the U.S. Navy failed to hold its shipbuilders accountable for poor safety records. Citing Reveal’s investigation, three senators have recently called on the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into VT Halter. The former head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts have also called on the Navy to stop contracting with dangerous shipbuilders.
The Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award (Medium): Against Their Will: Sexual Exploitation in Pot Country
Reporter Shoshana Walter spent months embedded in the birthplace of the country’s marijuana industry and uncovered an epidemic of abuse and human trafficking that is rarely investigated by the police. Instead, officers in the region have focused on what they view as the root cause of the problem: the drug trade.
Walter teamed up with producer Michael Montgomery to tell the story for radio, unfurling the harrowing tale of a marijuana “trimmigrant” who was abused by a grower, and the community’s telling response.
The stories prompted legislation to improve safety for marijuana workers, the creation of a safe house and emergency hotline for trimmigrants, and a series of safety pamphlets, workshops and community-led outreach groups. For the first time, many women stepped forward to report their abuse, and growers and workers alike called for an end to the culture of silence.
Topical Reporting (Medium): Standing Rock and Beyond
Reveal and our partners at Inside Energy traveled from the tar sands of Canada to the shores of the Gulf, checking in with the communities most affected by the rush to pull oil and natural gas from the ground.
We produced a radio hour in collaboration with Inside Energy that included the voices of Native American youth rarely heard on the national airwaves. The show detailed how young people who started the Standing Rock protest found solace in fighting a losing battle.
Reveal’s Patrick Michels told the story of an indigenous tribe near Vancouver that is fighting against oil pipelines in court because the tribe never signed treaties with the government there.
Meanwhile, a story by Reveal’s Ike Sriskandarajah showed how the Southern Ute tribe has taken a different approach by embracing energy development rather than fighting it.
A video series by senior supervising editor David Ritsher and producer Rachel de Leon accompanied the project. The series featured four personal stories about the history, lives and environment at stake in battles over the land.
On its website, ONA said entries in this year’s contest showed the continued expansion of storytelling into many digital platforms.
“While journalists in these fields are tapping new creative outlets for storytelling, they are also working within many recognized journalistic standards and approaches,” ONA stated. “In short, these modes of storytelling are established in the industry and the work deserves to be honored. We can’t wait to see how Audio and Immersive both evolve in years to come.”