The Radio Television Digital News Association has named ProPublica the winner of two Edward R. Murrow Awards. The national competition, among the most prestigious in journalism, recognizes outstanding achievement in broadcast and digital news.
ProPublica’s “Zero Tolerance” audio won in the Excellence in Sound category for Small Digital News Organizations. Published one year ago today, the secret recording from inside an immigrant detention center captured the unmistakable sounds of children sobbing and begging for their parents after being separated from their families at the Mexican border. The tape immediately broke through the partisan din and led to a massive public outcry. Within 48 hours, the president signed an executive order to reverse his policy of separating families and a federal judge in California ordered that parents and children be reunited within 30 days.
“Unprotected,” ProPublica’s first full-length feature film, was named best News Documentary in the Small Digital News Organization division. The project explored how the American charity More Than Me pledged to save some of Liberia’s most vulnerable girls from sexual exploitation — gaining international plaudits and millions of dollars in donations in the process. But from the beginning, girls as young as 10 were being raped by one of the nonprofit’s key leaders. The charity then misled donors and the public about what happened and failed to safeguard all the perpetrator’s possible victims even once they knew he had AIDS when he died.
The film, distributed for free online, was key to bringing this story to the right audiences in Liberia, where literacy rates are low, and led to swift, meaningful impact on the ground. After publication, the charity apologized to the victims, for the first time, conceding it had failed them. More Than Me announced schoolwide HIV testing; several board members resigned, including the charity’s founder, Katie Meyler; and the Liberian government announced a multi-agency inquiry.
You can see a full list of Murrow Awards winners on the RTDNA site.