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ProPublica Workers’ Comp Investigation Named Finalist for Shadid Award for Journalism Ethics

The Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison announced ProPublica as a finalist for the 2016 Anthony Shadid Award for Journalism Ethics. Insult to Injury, the non-profit newsroom’s collaboration with NPR on America’s vanishing worker protections, was named one of five finalists for the award, which honors journalism displaying high ethical standards in the pursuit of truth.

Told through a collection of online stories, radio pieces and interactive news applications steered by ProPublica reporter Michael Grabell and NPR correspondent Howard Berkes, the series investigated how state after state has been dismantling America’s workers’ compensation system.

The reporting involved dozens of sensitive interviews with injured workers and their families, who revealed personal, painful and sometimes humiliating details about their lives since their injuries. At the same time, the details of their difficult situations were powerful illustrations of the problems. Through various edits, reporters and editors debated how much to disclose about each case. As part of their reporting, Grabell and Berkes obtained extensive medical records on each worker, but decided against posting any portion of these documents to protect the workers’ privacy.

Within days of the “Insult to Injury” series launch, California officials launched a review of the state’s home health standard, and a senator later introduced a bill that would prevent medical care from being cut off in the state. The stories also prompted new legislation to raise workers’ comp benefits in Alabama, and just last week, the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission ruled the state’s corporate “opt out” system of private workers’ comp to be unconstitutional.

See a list of all five Shadid Award finalists here.

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