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ProPublica and Partners Nominated for Five National Magazine Awards

The American Society of Magazine Editors has named ProPublica a finalist for five of its 2024 National Magazine Awards (also known as the Ellies), which honor excellence in print and digital journalism. Four of the five finalists are projects with partner media organizations. The finalists were recognized in the categories of podcasting, video, reporting and public interest.

The Kids of Rutherford County,” a four-part narrative podcast created by Serial Productions and The New York Times and hosted by former Local Reporting Network partner Meribah Knight of WPLN Nashville Public Radio, is nominated in the podcasting category. The podcast builds on a joint investigation by Knight and ProPublica’s Ken Armstrong, whose reporting discovered that a Tennessee county was wrongfully arresting and illegally jailing children for over a decade. The podcast reveals how this came to be, with particular attention to the adults responsible for it and the two juvenile-delinquents-turned-lawyers who try to do something about it.

The Night Doctrine,” an animated documentary directed by ProPublica’s Mauricio Rodríguez Pons and Almudena Toral in partnership with The New Yorker, is nominated in the video category. It follows the story of Lynzy Billing, a young Afghan-Pakistani journalist who embarks on a journey to find out who killed her family 30 years ago, only to uncover hundreds of civilians killed in a secretive American-backed program in Afghanistan. Billing’s quest takes her through the streets of Kabul and Nangarhar province as she uncovers the truth about the Zero Units, squads of Afghan commandos funded, trained and directed by the CIA to go after threats to the United States. The film is a continuation of Billing’s reporting in “The Night Raids,” a gripping and powerful investigation published in 2022.

Someone Tell Me What to Do,” a partnership with The Texas Tribune and a written companion to a documentary with PBS Frontline, is nominated in the reporting category. After independently obtaining a trove of investigative records, Lomi Kriel and Lexi Churchill from the ProPublica/Texas Tribune investigative unit and Jinitzail Hernández from The Texas Tribune spent months going through hundreds of hours of interviews and video footage, as well as other documents related to the May 2022 gun massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Reporters also conducted two 50-state analyses of the training requirements for children and law enforcement officers. The result was an exhaustive investigation that revealed, in excruciating detail, the devastating distinction between the children who followed what they were taught to do, even as their peers and teachers cried out in agony from their injuries, and the officers who did not, at times saying that the students’ silence made them believe that the classrooms were empty. Through deep reporting and evocative writing, reporters captured the heart-rending and confounding moments on either side of the door and showed that Uvalde was a reflection of what can happen in states that require more training to prepare students and teachers for mass shootings than they do for those expected to protect them.

How Columbia Ignored Women, Undermined Prosecutors and Protected a Predator For More Than 20 Years,” a partnership with New York Magazine, is nominated in the public interest category. For decades, patients warned Columbia University about the behavior of obstetrician-gynecologist Robert Hadden. During their 18-month investigation, freelance reporter Laura Beil and ProPublica’s Bianca Fortis found that Columbia had failed to protect thousands of patients from a doctor who women warned was a predator. The university ignored patients who raised alarms about Hadden, attempted to silence those who tried to fight back and so thoroughly resisted cooperation with an investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office that the DA considered criminal charges. Columbia announced in November a sweeping series of changes following outrage and protests. The university said it will create a $100 million survivors’ settlement fund and would commit to an external investigation to examine the systemic failures that allowed Hadden’s abuse to continue. Columbia also pledged to notify nearly 6,500 of Hadden’s former patients about his crimes.

Friends of the Court” is also nominated in the public interest category. ProPublica’s Justin Elliott, Joshua Kaplan, Brett Murphy, Alex Mierjeski and Kirsten Berg contributed to the series, which examined Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ decadeslong friendship with real estate tycoon Harlan Crow and Samuel Alito’s luxury travel with billionaire Paul Singer and raised questions about influence and ethics at the nation's highest court. In response to the reporting, Thomas for the first time acknowledged that he should have reported selling real estate to Crow in 2014. Writing in his annual financial disclosure form, Thomas said he “inadvertently failed to realize” that the deal needed to be publicly disclosed. Thomas also disclosed receiving three private jet trips from Crow, two of which ProPublica reported on. Crow has said he never tried to influence Thomas on any matters.

Learn more about the National Magazine Awards.

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