The Society of Professional Journalists announced today that ProPublica has won two Sigma Delta Chi Awards for excellence in journalism.
ProPublica’s “Electionland” won in the category of online non-deadline reporting, independent. A collaboration with a coalition of organizations – including Google News Lab, Univision, the USA Today Network, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, WNYC, First Draft and student journalists from 12 colleges and universities – Electionland empowered newsrooms across the country to cover voting problems faster and more informatively than has ever been attempted. Local newsrooms were alerted to problems in real time, and national partners received an unprecedented, countrywide look at problems facing the vote.
Throughout the early voting period and on Election Day, the Electionland coalition received real-time data on voting problems from multiple sources, including social media and Google search trends, as well as data from the national Election Protection Coalition. As we collected tips, professional journalists vetted and verified them, forwarding them as leads to our national desk and local reporting partners across the country. With more than 1,100 participating journalists, Electionland was the largest journalistic collaboration in history, generating about 300 stories from our data.
“Busted” won the Sigma Delta Chi Award for public service in online journalism, independent. The series of investigative reports by Ryan Gabrielson and Topher Saunders exposed how tens of thousands of Americans are jailed every year based on $2 police drug kits known to be unreliable.
The impact was life-altering. Prosecutors in Portland conducted subsequent lab tests and exonerated five cases in which defendants had pled guilty but the tests were negative for the presence of any controlled substance.” Portland also overhauled its procedures, opting to no longer stand by the thousands of guilty pleas it won each year absent lab confirmations. In Las Vegas, defense lawyers created a committee to explore a collective challenge to the use of the tests in Clark County.
See the full list of Sigma Delta Chi Award winners here.