The Overseas Press Club announced two ProPublica projects as winners of its annual awards, which honor international news coverage for an American audience.
“The Night Raids,” by Afghan-born journalist Lynzy Billing, won the Ed Cunningham Award for best magazine-style, long-form narrative feature in print or digital on an international story. This deeply reported and personal story unravels the legacy of the secretive U.S.-backed Zero Units that killed countless civilians in Afghanistan. The ProPublica investigation shed new light on the CIA’s “classified” war in Afghanistan, where lines of accountability were so obscured that no one had to answer for operations that went wrong. More than three years of reporting and 350 interviews went into compiling the first-ever database of 452 Afghan civilians killed by night raids. While this is almost certainly an undercount, without Billing’s reporting these deaths would never have been acknowledged, nor would we know the true costs of America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan.
“Shadow Diplomats: The Global Threat of Rogue Diplomacy,” a collaboration between ProPublica, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and more than 60 news organizations around the world, won the Malcolm Forbes Award for best international business news reporting in newspapers, news services, magazines or digital. The first-of-its-kind global investigation exposes how widespread abuse of the honorary consul system has empowered and protected unscrupulous operators and imperiled vulnerable communities across the world. ProPublica reporter Debbie Cenziper, ICIJ reporters Will Fitzgibbon and Delphine Reuter, and Eva Herscowitz of Northwestern University’s Medill Investigative Lab, with help from international partners, filed public records requests on four continents, obtained century-old records from the United Nations archives and gathered documents from countries with repressive media environments. The investigation identified at least 500 current and former honorary consuls who were publicly accused of crimes or embroiled in controversy. Some were convicted of serious offenses including drug trafficking, murder, weapons dealing and sex crimes. Others were caught exploiting their status for personal gain. A number drew criticism for their support of authoritarian or corrupt regimes, including those in Syria and North Korea. Nine current and former honorary consuls identified by ProPublica and ICIJ have been linked to terrorist groups by law enforcement and governments.
See the full list of OPC winners here.