The American Society of Magazine Editors nominated ProPublica for four of its 2020 National Magazine Awards (also known as the Ellies), which honor excellence in print and digital media. ProPublica was recognized as a finalist for public interest, reporting, podcasting and digital innovation.
Our “Disaster in the Pacific” series, examining three Navy and Marines accidents in 2017 and 2018 that resulted in the deaths of 23 service members, was nominated for public interest. Our reporting by T. Christian Miller, Megan Rose and Robert Faturechi showed that U.S. sailors and aviators are often not properly trained for combat and are frequently sent out with outmoded or slipshod equipment. When the inevitable accidents occurred, investigations led by senior officers blamed rank-and-file sailors for what were clearly systemic shortcomings. These stories struck a chord with a wide range of active-duty personnel and their loved ones and prompted congressional hearings on the issues we spotlighted.
Our reporting on the use of jailhouse informants to secure convictions, co-published with the New York Times Magazine, was nominated for reporting. Senior reporter Pamela Colloff focused on a notorious con artist named Paul Skalnik who, in at least 40 different criminal cases in Florida and Texas, miraculously extracted richly detailed “confessions” from his fellow inmates. Skalnik gave powerful testimony that prosecutors used to secure convictions, receiving lighter sentences and earlier release dates in return. Colloff’s piece also illuminated the sometimes catastrophic effects of jailhouse informant testimony and how it corrupts the justice system.
Our visualization of the spread of the natural gas industry across West Virginia, created in partnership with ProPublica Local Reporting Network partner the Charleston Gazette-Mail, was nominated for digital innovation. ProPublica news applications developer Al Shaw and Gazette-Mail reporter Kate Mishkin assembled every single aerial image taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to build a map showing the location of more than 5,000 permitted natural gas wells. The interactive graphic allowed residents to search for well permits near their homes. For the first time, people across the state had the data to know how close they were living to potentially harmful fracking operations.
Trump, Inc., a podcast by ProPublica and WNYC, was nominated in the podcasting category. The podcast examines the business dealings of President Donald Trump and his family, including episodes on the Ukraine scandal and never-before-seen Trump tax documents showing major inconsistencies. New York Magazine’s Vulture website named Trump, Inc. among the best news podcasts of all time: “It’s like they’re pointing a spotlight at a big but finite canvas and moving it around until they find something amazing and newsworthy.”
See a list of all the National Magazine Award finalists here.