The Deadline Club's 2023 Award Winners
In 2023, the Deadline Club returned to the Harvard Club for its annual awards dinner. Below is the complete list of winners with comments from the judges, as selected from the list of awards finalists.
For more on this year’s dinner, view the scholarship recipients and the winner of the Robert Greenman Award.
1. The Daniel Pearl Award for Investigative Reporting
Dan Levine, Mike Spector, Benjamin Lesser, Kristina Cooke, Disha Raychaudhuri “Going for Broke” Reuters
Deeply investigated, exhaustively executed, and essential reading for any citizen concerned about the growing power of the American corporation: Reuters’ “Going for Broke” stunned us with its revelations about the maneuvers organizations use in bankruptcy court to avoid liability owed to customers they’ve harmed. A two-step triumph.
2. Newspaper or Digital Beat Reporting
Much has been written about the prohibitive costs of higher education and the precipitous drop in enrollment. Jon Marcus delved far deeper into the array of reasons for the decline and what happens when more Americans choose not to go to college. His insightful work shows us that the consequences of a less-educated society could be wide-ranging and devastating.
3. Newspaper or Digital Feature Reporting
James Marson’s reporting transports readers to the routine hell that ragtag bands of citizen soldiers face on the front lines of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. His depiction of life and death on the black earth of the battlefield is all the more wrenching for its plain-spokenness. As one volunteer fighter put it: “No romanticism here.”
4. Newspaper or Digital Spot News Reporting
Joshua Goodman’s eyewitness account of Salman Rushdie’s dramatic on-stage stabbing at his lecture last summer sent shockwaves around the world while making us feel like we were there. Goodman, in the audience by happenstance, sprang into action, interviewing key players and spectators, shooting photos and videos, and phoning his copy into a team of AP colleagues who helped round out a story told with gravity and grace.
5. Newspaper or Digital Enterprise Reporting
Dan Levine, Mike Spector, Benjamin Lesser, Kristina Cooke, Disha Raychaudhuri “Going for Broke” Reuters
In today’s media environment, publishing 20 single-spaced pages about the byzantine system of bankruptcy court is a risky move. But for Reuters, the risk paid off. This package of stories breaks new ground, revealing corruption in America’s justice system with expert reporting and bold analysis.
6. Newspaper or Digital Local News Reporting
Michael Daly “The Inside Story of How the NYPD Cracked the Michael K. Williams Overdose Case” Daily Beast
The death of actor Michael K. Williams hits close to home as people from all walks of life continue to struggle with the drug epidemic nationwide. The spotlight on this issue because of its effect on a well-known celebrity was a wake-up call for many who previously stereotyped drug users. Thus, the impact of this story goes well beyond NYC and explores a cross-section of a typical drug spiral, traced this time through the lens of a high-profile celebrity death.
7. Reporting by Newspapers with a Circulation under 100,000
The piece was both complex and compelling but, at its core, relatable and inviting. The focus on churches and the people within them brings color to the historic buildings and those who bolster the institutions. But also firmly grasps the reality of shrinking congregations, showing readers the ripples dying churches leave in a community. A stellar piece of reporting.
8. Reporting by Independent Digital Media
Excellent investigative work that drove the national conversation and had an impact on a highly consequential Congressional election. This was reporting that every other major outlet had to follow. The story was executed well and had a strong narrative approach, with great quotes and the kind of color and detail that stand out. It was also thorough and fair.
9. Magazine Personal Service
Tunde Akinleye, Kevin Loria, Trisha Calvo, Andy Bergmann, Sarah Goralski “Lead and Cadmium Could Be in Your Dark Chocolate” Consumer Reports
The reporter conducted a thorough expert-backed investigation and presented the concerns raised by his findings in a straightforward way. He goes the extra step by detailing how lead gets into chocolate and in true service journalism form, how readers who eat dark chocolate can reduce their risk of lead-related health problems. The story had a clear impact, picked up by major news outlets and resulting in a consumer lawsuit.
10. Magazine Profile
Sophie Alexander “Larry Ellison’s Lanai Isn’t for You-or the People Who Live There” Bloomberg Businessweek
Sophie Alexander provides a view of inequality as we’ve never seen it. As she puts it, “In this version of gentrification, you don’t just get pushed out farther from the city center. You get pushed out into the sea.” Her deeply reported profile is accompanied by interactive graphics that offer a detailed view of the island. It’s a memorable and engaging read.
11. Magazine Investigative Reporting
Kevin Loria, Andy Bergmann, Lauren Friedman, Tunde Akinleye, Wendy Greenfield “The Dangerous Chemicals in Your Fast Food Wrappers & Cookware” Consumer Reports
This entry examined how dangerous “forever chemicals” PFAS are a pressing health issue affecting people around the world and an important matter of public interest and safety. It showcased extensive research, comprehensive testing and thorough investigative reporting accompanied by effective graphics and supplemental articles that provided background into PFAS and thoughtful insight for consumers.
12. Magazine Feature Reporting
Alexis E. Barton “The Finer Things: My family poured love and joy into entertaining. Now it’s my turn.” Washington Post Magazine
A beautifully written, classic human interest piece that gives us a slice-of-life of the author’s cultural upbringing in the deep south. It vividly illustrates the Southern hospitality we so often hear about but can rarely put our finger on what exactly it means. The piece has a much needed feel of wholesomeness and self-reflection as the world recovers after the COVID-19 pandemic. A superb fly on the wall experience of sitting in the kitchen and finding out the meaning to life from our elders.
13. Arts Reporting
Johanna Berkman, Alessandra Stanley, Graydon Carter, Ash Carter “Under the Influence: Jumi Bello Was on Track to Be a Major Writer — Until Her Debut Novel Was Dropped Amid Rumors of Plagiarism” Air Mail
In a category that always has wonderful writing and reporting, the Air Mail piece stood out. A fascinating story presented in a compelling way with measured reporting. The story treated all involved in this complicated plagiarism scandal with humanity and understanding.
14. Business Feature
Andy Greenberg “The Crypto Trap: Inside the Bitcoin Bust That Took Down the Web’s Biggest Child Abuse Site” Wired Magazine
Unfolding like a thriller, Andy Greenberg’s crackling writing kept us hooked from the first sentence to the last, taking us along on a law enforcement investigation that used new bitcoin tracing technology to hunt down the creator and customers of a dark website who bought and sold thousands of videos of child sexual abuse and wrongly believed they were operating anonymously.
15. Business Investigative Reporting
Staff “The Pentagon knows contractors for overseas bases have engaged extensively in trafficking workers despite ‘zero tolerance.’ The punishment: more contracts.” NBC News, ICIJ, ARIJ and The Washington Post
Reporters for NBC, The Washington Post, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and Arab Journalists for Investigative Reporting painstakingly documented labor abuses on U.S. military bases abroad, overcoming a series of reporting obstacles to shed an important light on a little-known and shocking practice that others had turned a blind eye to. Their determination to tell the story in the face of significant hurdles and the details of the abuses the workers endured, which one source called “modern day slavery,” sets this entry apart from the many fine contestants in this category.
16. Opinion Writing
This is a thoughtful, well-written piece that uses history and humor to educate and engage readers. The author goes beyond the hot takes and delves deeply into Hollywood’s past, exploring a subject not often talked about. The result is a piece that skillfully breaks down antisemitic conspiracy theories and leaves readers better informed.
17. Science, Technology, Medical or Environmental Reporting
Abigail Kramer “Crisis Point: How New York Wrecked Mental Health Care for Kids” THE CITY and ProPublica
The compelling narrative, told through the voices of those most affected, children and their guardians, shows how New York State’s drastic cut to youth psychiatric hospital beds has left those in crisis resorting to emergency rooms and police, with traumatic outcomes. With schools left to pick up the pieces, the uneven results are often based on the resources of parents to advocate for their child’s right to an education. The deeply reported series led to a state Attorney General investigation along with ongoing calls for reform.
18. Sports Reporting
This is great sports journalism that shows sports reporting isn’t just about what happens on the field of play. It tells an incredible story that pulls in readers emotionally and stokes that emotion throughout the story through descriptive narratives. The reporter’s ability to tell not only what happened in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover but how it affected one athlete and her family is what excellent storytelling is about.
19. Spot News Photo
Evgeniy Maloletka’s iconic photo of a gravely injured pregnant woman being evacuated from a bombed-out maternity hospital during last year’s siege of Mariupol is symbolic of the ongoing death and destruction wrought by the war in Ukraine. The AP photographer put himself at risk to show the world how innocent civilians have fallen victim to the attacks.
20. Feature Photo
Abbie Trayler-Smith, Kyle Almond, Brett Roegiers “Battling obesity – and telling bullies to ‘Kiss It!” CNN
Our choice of “Battling Obesity” as the winner is due to the incredible depth and aesthetic of the images and how any single image could effectively encapsulate the nuances of the story: capturing both the strength and joy of Shannon Walton’s life experience while still acknowledging the social adversity that she is challenging.
21. Sports Photo
Thomas A. Ferrara “Agony and Ecstasy“ Newsday
The photojournalist found the right angle and focus to show the reactions of winners and losers in the world of competitive sports. This is great sports photojournalism that pulls viewers in from the moment the image is in front of their eyes. It makes you want to know more and read the story it accompanies.
22. Multimedia, Interactive Graphics and Animation
Excellent reporting on a very sensitive and important subject told through first-hand interviews with victims of brutal sexual assault, texts from medical witnesses and graphics that put the reader inside Iran’s streets and prison cells. Despite the challenging and dangerous reporting conditions, the team corroborated its reporting with solid sources and supported the piece with interactive maps, photos and videos, giving voice to people who are often told (and forced) to be voiceless.
23. Digital Innovation
Through diligent research and analysis, Bloomberg News revealed that Google’s search engine, ads and maps often took those searching for the word “abortion” to links for crisis pregnancy centers where women would be aggressively persuaded not to have the abortion. Bloomberg News’s reporting yielded results: Google, Snapchat and other companies changed their ad and search practices and lawmakers cited Bloomberg News in urging immediate reform to online misdirection.
24. Radio or Audio Spot News Reporting
Nathan Hager, Karen Moskow, Richard Trueman, Ken Feliu, Caroline Hepker “Russia Invades Ukraine: Live Coverage at 5am on 2/24/22” Bloomberg
In the early hours of February 24, 2022, Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine. In the early hours in the U.S., Americans woke up to Bloomberg Radio’s comprehensive coverage of the events, complete with political reaction as well as market reaction. It was sound rich, included exclusive interviews and quotes from several voices, while being tightly edited.
25. Radio or Audio Feature Reporting
Brandy Zadrozny, Reid Cherlin, Frannie Kelley, Eva Ruth Moravec, Madeleine Haeringer “Truthers: Tiffany Dover Is Dead*” NBC News
NBC’s Tiffany Dover is Dead* is a deep examination of the through-the-looking-glass world of misinformation, its players and its victims. This piece deepens our understanding of the war over truth, and its importance to us all.
26. Radio or Audio Investigative Reporting
Chris Corcoran, Robert Downey Jr., Susan Downey, Emily Barclay Ford, Josh McLaughlin “The Sunshine Place” C13Originals and Team Downey
The judges enjoyed the report’s conversational, matter-of-fact delivery as well as the excellent use of sound incorporated into the program. Through first-hand accounts, the podcast comes alive with rich voices that transport the listener. It brings to life a tale that needed to be told.
27. Digital Video Reporting
Matt Kwiecinski, Christine Nguyen, Tate James, Ernesto Guadalupe “Dear Noah: Pages from a Family Diary” NBC News Digital
“Dear Noah: Pages from a Family Diary” is of high importance as the criminalization of trans people continues with speed in Texas and other states. This story by NBC News Digital is emotionally powerful and conveyed with purpose. The video is exemplary for its craft as well as its storytelling. We will remember and continue to be curious about the Laird Family for years to come.
28. Local Television Spot News Reporting
This piece had a good mix of in-studio and on-location reporting. It did a great job of following the story beyond the initial event and it had a diverse mix of voices featured throughout the coverage. All over, great reporting.
29. Local Television Feature
Every journalist looks for a moment in every piece they produce. This piece was moment after moment after moment. It was beautifully paced. The story was compelling.
30. Local Television Series or Investigative Reporting
A really well-done series with good use of multimedia to tell these stories. This series is impactful and shines a light on stories perhaps forgotten about by society. Everything about this piece stands out and grabs your attention from the beginning. Overall, thoughtful journalism being used to tell important stories.
31. National Television Spot News Reporting
Richard Engel, NBC News staff “Richard Engel’s continuing coverage of the War in Ukraine” NBC News/MSNBC
Richard Engel and his team brought alive the chaos, devastation, and the heart-breaking human toll of the war in Ukraine as it was unfolding, delivering TV Spot News coverage at its best. Engel demonstrated unparalleled skills in storytelling and a deep commitment to journalistic integrity. His high impact coverage was at once compelling, informative and deeply affecting.
32. National Television Feature
Richard Engel, TODAY Show staff, NBC News staff, On Assignment with Richard Engel staff “Richard Engel Reports: Ukraine’s Vilshany Orphanage” NBC News
A deeply moving story about disabled children left behind in a Ukrainian orphanage told with genuine compassion. Richard Engel touches a nerve and our hearts at the same time with a heartbreaking example of the tragedy of war.
33. National Television Series or Investigative Reporting
This investigation uncovers flaws in the certification of ethically-grown coffee, documenting evidence of child labor and unfair wage practices on coffee plantations in Mexico. Reporters traveled to dangerous areas to obtain eye-opening interviews with farmers and children. And a result of their reporting, some farms were stripped of their certification, and the certifying organizations were held accountable.
34. The Mosaic Award
This moving coverage shines a light on gross injustices involving society’s most vulnerable: children. The reporting team provokes new questions on the vast inequalities concerning a broken foster care system that is destroying Black families and systematically oppressing young, low-income Black mothers.
35. The Les Payne Award for Coverage on Communities of Color
Lisa Cavazuti, Cynthia McFadden, Maite Amorebieta, Yasmine Salam, Rich Schapiro, Eric Pfriender, Ray Farmer “The Reckoning: An American Genocide” NBC News
The judges choose “NBC’s The Reckoning: An American Genocide” for its eye-opening, compelling look at a dark period of Native American history. The report told their stories with such depth while using historical footage and records to help give voice to the voiceless, something Les Payne spent his career advocating for.
36. Public Service Award
In the chaos and confusion of the Uvalde shooting, CNN was there holding law enforcement and officials accountable not only to the general public, but the grieving families. Through dogged gumshoe reporting and extensive research, they provided a comprehensive picture of key decisions before and during the tragedy so that those who failed to prevent more children’s deaths would be held responsible.