The Radio Television Digital News Association announced today that ProPublica has won two Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, honoring outstanding achievements in electronic journalism. Presented to radio, television and digital outlets based on 14 geographic regions, winners of the Regional Murrow Awards are automatically considered for a national Murrow Award.
The “Lost Mothers” database, a collaboration with NPR, won the Regional Murrow Award for Excellence in Innovation. Led by ProPublica reporters Nina Martin and Adriana Gallardo, along with NPR special correspondent Renee Montagne, the first-of-its-kind database was part of a year-long investigation on the maternal mortality crisis in the United States. Early into their investigation on why the U.S. has the highest rate of maternal mortality and severe morbidity in the affluent world, the reporters learned that, when a woman dies from pregnancy-related complications, she becomes nearly invisible. The usual research tools used by journalists, such as Nexis and Google, turned up surprisingly few news stories in which women were named, and obituaries rarely mention the cause of death.
To find the mothers, the reporters scoured crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe and YouCaring, verifying names with obituaries and public posts on Facebook and Twitter. They also published a callout, asking affected families to tell their stories. More than 4,700 people responded, including 4,000 women who said they had almost died themselves. Working with NYU journalism graduate students Emma Cillekens and Alessandra Freita, the team contacted family members multiple times over a six-month period, encouraging them to share personal details, photographs and medical records. These efforts helped the reporters create the “Lost Mothers” database, eventually identifying more than 160 maternal deaths in 2016 alone.
ProPublica’s innovative efforts on Twitter won the Regional Murrow Award for Excellence in Social Media. Led by a team of engagement reporters who use ProPublica’s social media platforms as publishing destinations in and of themselves, we tweeted as a vehicle for storytelling and reporting, particularly on the Trump administration. Notable tweetstorms included an introduction to what ProPublica reporters were covering, inviting readers to give us tips. We explained the reality of refugee vetting, responded to the White House’s attempt to undermine our reporting, and showed true facts of Trump’s business record. And we used social media to ferret out the White House’s opaque financial disclosures.
See a list of all winners of the Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards here.