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ProPublica, NPR ‘Lost Mothers’ Series is a Finalist for Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting

The series illuminated a national disgrace: The U.S. has the worst rate of maternal deaths in the developed world, and up to 60 percent of those deaths are preventable.

ProPublica and NPR’s series on maternal mortality in the U.S., ‘Lost Mothers’, is one of six finalists for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.

Led by ProPublica reporters Nina Martin and Adriana Gallardo, along with NPR special correspondent Renee Montagne, the series illuminated a national disgrace: the U.S. has the worst rate of maternal deaths in the developed world, and 60 percent of those deaths are preventable. The body of work recognized includes intimate narratives of mothers who died after failing to receive the most basic care, data analysis that established the greater risks faced by African-American women, and a first-of-its kind database of the personal stories behind this tragedy, with more than 4,000 stories of women and families affected by the crisis.

The reporting also called out those culpable, showing a way forward that would save lives and families too often destroyed by preventable tragedies.

The series had an immediate impact on the lives of readers. Four days after delivering her first child, Marie McCausland, a 27-year-old scientist in Ohio, recognized her painful symptoms from reading the article and raced to the nearest emergency room. Although the ER doctor claimed nothing was wrong, she stayed until another doctor was consulted — and she was treated for severe preeclampsia, likely saving her life.

The New England Journal of Medicine proclaimed that the reporting “heightened public awareness of grim realities that have been on obstetricians’ minds for years.” And two state legislators in New Jersey, citing the series, introduced a bill to heighten monitoring of maternal deaths and encourage hospitals to adopt life-saving treatment protocols.

The Goldsmith Prize, administered by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, recognizes journalism “that promotes more effective and ethical conduct of government, the making of public policy, or the practice of politics by disclosing excessive secrecy, impropriety, and mismanagement, or instances of particularly commendable government performance.” The winner will be announced in March.

See a full list of Goldsmith finalists here.

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