The UCLA Anderson School of Management announced Thursday that ProPublica won a Gerald Loeb Award, one of the most prestigious prizes in business and finance journalism.
“Evenflo, Maker of the ‘Big Kid’ Booster Seat, Put Profits Over Child Safety” won in the personal finance and consumer reporting category. Using the company’s own side-impact testing footage, our investigation demonstrated that the car seat maker behind the “Big Kid,” a bestseller in the U.S. with more than 18 million sold, put marketing above the safety of children. Despite video evidence indicating otherwise, Evenflo stitched “SIDE IMPACT TESTED” on the back of every Big Kid booster and its marketing materials boasted of “rigorous” tests that went above and beyond what the government required of car seat makers. Our reporting revealed the corporate blindness and regulatory failures that allowed the seats to be sold, even after children were seriously injured, even paralyzed.
The story’s findings, and its broader lessons about consumer safety, were widely discussed; the story was picked up by network news shows including “NBC Nightly News,” ABC’s “Good Morning America” and “CBS This Morning.” Most importantly, parents and elected officials took action. “Your reporting is truly a public service and without question will save lives,” a North Carolina dad wrote in an email. “As a parent of three, thank you. I am throwing away two booster seats today.”
Members of Congress urged the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general to investigate booster companies for violations of consumer protection laws, deceptive marketing and “unreasonable risks to safety.” In July 2021, a group of 18 state attorneys general signed a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg criticizing NHTSA for failing to mandate side-impact tests for children’s car seats, despite a law requiring the agency to protect kids in such collisions.
An Evenflo attorney told ProPublica that its seats are safe and effective, and that it has been a pioneer in side-impact testing. It blamed driver error for the children’s injuries.
Read the full list of award winners.