ProPublica reporter Sheri Fink has been honored with a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for an article published last August in the New York Times Magazine. In addition, reporting by Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber of ProPublica on lax oversight of nursing in California, published in the Los Angeles Times, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, the Pulitzer's highest honor.
Sheri Fink's shocking 13,000-word chronicle, "The Deadly Choices at Memorial," revealed how some New Orleans doctors -- in the gathering chaos as Katrina's floodwaters rose, generators failed, and their hospital was cut off from the world -- decided to give lethal injections to patients who they feared could not be evacuated.
Sheri's work is a powerful example of what ProPublica was founded to do: shine light on possible abuses of power or failures to uphold the public interest, so that the public can learn from and remedy them. In this case, her reporting provides crucial information for those charged with designing guidelines for coping with medical disasters. The key questions are who should be saved first and who should decide.
This prestigious award caps a series of honors for ProPublica's work in 2009, its first year of operation with a complete staff. They include a George Polk Award, the Selden Ring Award for investigative reporting, and two Investigative Reporters and Editors awards, for subjects as diverse as environmental risks from natural gas drilling, denial of government-mandated insurance benefits for dead or wounded employees of military contractors abroad, and police shootings in New Orleans.
The honors are gratifying, and we deeply appreciate them, but they are not a goal in themselves. We view them as a sign that our nonprofit, nonpartisan model -- publishing both on our own Web site and in partnership with major print, video, audio and online news organizations -- can make a meaningful contribution to the information needs of the American people in an era of explosive change in newspapers and other media.