The Society of Professional Journalists announced in June that two investigative projects from ProPublica won prizes at its annual Sigma Delta Chi Awards for excellence in journalism.
“She Wanted an Abortion. A Judge Said She Wasn’t Mature Enough to Decide.” by Lizzie Presser, a collaboration with The New York Times Magazine, won in the magazine writing category. This story provides an in-depth look at parental involvement laws, which require minors to notify or get consent from one or both parents before getting an abortion. They are among the most popular abortion restrictions in the country, yet these laws — and their repercussions on teenagers — have received surprisingly little attention. Teens who can’t engage a parent must go to court to prove to a judge that they are mature enough to end their pregnancy in a process called judicial bypass. Taking into account the broader legal and political contexts of parental involvement laws and teenage pregnancy, Presser takes an unflinching look at the life of one young woman who was forced into motherhood and forever transformed by this abortion restriction.
“Rent Barons,” with contributions from Heather Vogell, Haru Coryne, Erin Smith and Ryan Little, won in the business/finance category. The series exposed how Wall Street’s growing stake in the American apartment industry is worsening the nation’s rental housing crisis. The first story by Vogell revealed that private equity firms have become the equivalent of corporate house flippers, buying apartments, increasing rents and selling for high profits. The second installment explored the problematic role played by tenant screening companies. The third involved RealPage, whose software helps landlords set rent — and may facilitate cartel-like price fixing. In response, congressional lawmakers wrote five letters urging investigation of RealPage. Dozens of federal lawsuits accused the company and more than 40 major landlords of colluding to artificially inflate rents. The Justice Department opened an inquiry into whether RealPage had violated antitrust laws.
See a list of all the 2022 Sigma Chi Award winners here.