Finalists for the Ellie Awards, which honor excellence in print and digital media, were announced today, with ProPublica recognized in both the Public Interest and Reporting categories.
Three pieces from a project with NPR on maternal mortality in the U.S. were nominated for public interest, including a database identifying 134 of the 700 to 900 U.S. women who died from pregnancy-related causes in 2016. “The Last Person You’d Expect to Die in Childbirth,” by ProPublica reporter Nina Martin and NPR correspondent Renee Montagne, shined a light on the fact that the U.S. has the worst rate of maternal deaths in the developed world and up to 60 percent are preventable. Focusing on the harrowing story of Lauren Bloomstein, a neonatal nurse who died in childbirth in the hospital where she worked, the piece shows a health care system that focuses on babies and often ignores their mothers.
“Nothing Protects Black Women from Dying in Pregnancy and Childbirth” explored African-American women’s disproportionate rates of maternal mortality, three to four times the rate of white mothers. The story detailed the experience of Shalon Irving, an Atlanta woman who died three weeks after giving birth to her first child. Irving was also a CDC researcher with two master’s degree and a PhD, who studied racial health disparities for a living. With more than 200 other black women’s stories collected over the course of their reporting, Martin and Montagne illustrated how social inequalities and stress from discrimination lead to poor maternal outcomes, and how unconscious biases embedded throughout the medical system affect quality of medical care in both stark and subtle ways.
“How the U.S. Triggered a Massacre in Mexico,” a collaboration with National Geographic, was nominated in the reporting category. In the investigative oral history, senior reporter Ginger Thompson unveiled the story of a drug cartel’s deadly assault on a small Mexican town, capturing the voices of victims and perpetrators alike. Many spoke publicly for the first time and at great personal risk. Thompson’s landmark reporting also proved that a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration operation had triggered the violence -- by passing intelligence to a DEA-trained Mexican police unit with a history of leaking.
“The Beleaguered Tenants of ‘Kushnerville,” co-published with New York Times Magazine, was also nominated in the reporting category. Reporter Alec MacGillis disclosed that the family real-estate business of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, had bought up low-income housing units in the Baltimore suburbs — only to leave the homes in extreme disrepair, humiliate late-paying renters, and sue them for thousands of dollars when they try to move out. The piece offers an unflinching account of the unseemly ways by which one of the most powerful families in Trump’s America has expanded its fortune.
See a full list of National Magazine Awards finalists here. Winners will be announced on March 13.