Today, the Selden Ring Awards announced T. Christian Miller as the winner of their investigative reporting prize. Additionally, ProPublica's Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber were finalists for the award.
Miller was honored for his series about the ordeal that war contractors face in trying to get legally mandated benefits from insurance companies when they are injured in war zones. Speaking for the seven-judge panel, Melanie Sill, editor of the Sacramento Bee said, "Without this groundbreaking reporting, many of these problems would not have come to light. Its impact was clear and continuing."
The Selden Ring Award, which is administered by the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, recognizes investigations that have impact. Miller's work led to congressional hearings and Rep. Elijah Cummings’ promise to introduce legislative reforms, and it moved Labor Department officials and insurance executives from AIG to acknowledge that the system had major flaws. The Labor Department vowed to increase penalties and resolve contentious cases more quickly. In August 2009, the Pentagon released a report recommending that the system be placed into public hands and urged further examination of the difficulty in delivering benefits to injured workers. And inspectors general from both Labor and Defense began investigations.
The work was planned and edited in a collaboration between ProPublica and the Los Angeles Times. Most of the stories were published in the Times; some were first published on ABC News, Salon, and in the Washington Post. All appeared on ProPublica’s Web site. Doug Smith, the database editor of the Times, contributed significant statistical research.
Ornstein and Weber were Selden Ring finalists for their series about the failures of the California Board of Registered Nursing to properly regulate and discipline nurses with criminal pasts. Their reporting has continued with recent stories about the federal government's incomplete database of sanctioned caregivers and our own state-by-state guide to dangerous nurses.
Congratulations T., Charlie and Tracy!