Judges comments from the 2015 awards

The Daniel Pearl Award for Investigative Reporting

Winner: “Underwriting Jihad” by Rukmini Callimachi
(The New York Times)
The judges wrote:
“The groundbreaking coverage in the New York Times
series “Underwriting Jihad” revealed how European
governments, by paying ransoms to terror groups, had
become an essential source of terrorism financing; and
how U.S. and British hostages were far more likely to
be executed because their governments refused to
pay. The reporter, Rukmini Callimachi, began
investigating the story long before anyone had heard
of ISIS. In 2013, while on assignment for The
Associated Press, she found a letter from an Al Qaeda
leader describing how important kidnapping had
become as a source of its income. In 2014, then a
correspondent for The Times, she followed a trail of
clues across Africa and Europe, speaking with former
hostages, government officials, negotiators, former
jihadis and relatives of the dead. For her extraordinary
courage and persistence, we are proud to award her
the Deadline Club’s Daniel Pearl Award for Investigative

Newspaper or Digital Beat Reporting
Winner: “Segregation Now” by Nikole Hannah-Jones
The judges wrote:
(This was) “A monumental reporting job about an
important social issue that society believed was settled
a generation ago. The entry represents an impressive
combination of in-depth research and compelling

Newspaper or Digital Feature Reporting

Winner: “To Die at Home” by Nina Bernstein (The New
York Times)
The judges wrote:
“This well assembled story shows thor-ough reporting
of a subject that touches so many in a country where
the medical system is incredibly advanced, yet can
show little compassion. It skillfully focuses on an
overburdened woman’s efforts to respect her ailing
father’s wish to die at home, illustrating the
shortcomings of for-profit medicine and government
support, when it comes to geriatric and end-of-life

Newspaper or Digital Spot News Reporting

Winner: “I can’t breathe… I can’t breathe…” by Staff
(New York Daily News)
The judges wrote:
“This is spot news reporting at its finest. From the
moment they heard a dispatch on the scanner, the
Daily News team “owned” the Eric Garner story and
pursued it relentlessly in print and online. The Ramsey
Orta video, obtained by Daily News photographer Ken
Murray soon after Garner’s death by police chokehold,
became an icon for this story as it reverberated across
the nation.”

Newspaper or Digital Enterprise Reporting

Winner: “On the Front Lines: For Want of Gloves, Ebola
Doctors Die” by Drew Hinshaw (The Wall Street Journal)
The judges wrote:
“Drew Hinshaw took a fresh, unexpected approach to
covering the Ebola epidemic. He revealed how one
seemingly simple problem—a shortage of rubber
gloves and other basic medical supplies—has taken a
massive toll on Ebola patients, doctors, and nurses
across West Africa. Hinshaw’s piece stood out for its
rigorous reporting, vivid details, and starkly poetic

Newspaper or Digital Local News Reporting

Winner: “Death on Rikers Island” by Jake Pearson (The
Associated Press)
The judges wrote:
“Crime in New York City is down but, as AP’s series
exposed, its prison on Rikers Island is in crisis. In a
field with more than a handful of strong submissions,
Jake Pearson’s reporting stands out as enterprising and
hugely important. This is the kind of work that
journalism should be doing more.”

Reporting for a Newspaper with a Circulation Under
Winner: “Killers & Pain” by Mary Beth Pfeiffer and Stuart
Shinske (Poughkeepsie Journal)
The judges wrote:
“(This was) An interesting examination of an anti-drug
abuse law with unintended consequences. Every angle
of the subject was solidly reported with impressive
data, and was humanized with profiles of the overdose

Reporting by Independent Digital Media

Winner: “The Magic Poop Potion” by Lina Zeldovich
The judges wrote:
“What sounds like it was dreamed up in a pre-teen
clubhouse, is in fact a deadly serious story about a
woman’s experience with a home remedy that saved
her life. The remedy helped to heal her of a lifethreatening
intestinal infection, just as the medical
community and regulators in the U.S. were debating a
taboo treatment that could provide a solution to a very
serious health threat. With clear writing, a careful use
of interview subjects, and a strong voice, the story
shows the journey of a woman who made her voice
heard in the medical community at a critical time,
helping to turn a last-resort remedy into a widely
recognized treatment to help the severely ill.”

Magazine Personal Service
Winner: “How to Command a Room” by Jennifer
Braunschweiger, Laura Sinberg and Lesley Jane
Seymour (More magazine)
The judges wrote:
“This was the type of piece you want to save and reread
right before an important meeting, panel or
presentation. It offered practical suggestions for
standing out professionally. Anyone looking to get a
promotion or build their reputation would benefit from
reading it. All of the judges were also impressed by
how each page of the layout could stand alone. It was a
thoughtful design that made the content easier to

Magazine Profile

Winner: “New Blood” by Roger Parloff (Fortune)
The judges wrote:
“Roger Parloff’s story brought to light young Elizabeth
Holmes’s revolutionary blood diagnostics company
called Theranos. It was timely, important and largely
unheard of, unlike the flashy tech startups in Silicon
Valley that are extensively profiled. Parloff noted that
Holmes, who can’t stand the sight of blood, tests a
drop of her own blood after a meal- it’s eccentricities
like that that show the subject is human and the writer
is insightful.”

Magazine Investigative Reporting

Winner: “Could Financial Planning Help Stem the Rate
of Military Suicides?” by Ann Marsh, Scott Wenger and
Kamrhan Farwell
The judges wrote:
“Debunking the myth that battle trauma is causing the
epidemic in military suicide came from a most unlikely
source– Financial Planning magazine, a trade
publication for investing advisors. In a surprising take
on a story you thought you already knew, Ann Marsh,
Scott Wenger and Kamrhan Farwell combine compelling
human interest with dogged reporting to show how
stress over debt is a major, overlooked factor in the
military’s other deadly scourge —suicide, often among
troops who never saw combat. The feature inspired
Congressional legislation to document and address the
problem, exemplifying how a trade publication can go
deep on a complex issue of public importance—
making a difference in a life and death issue.”

Magazine Feature Reporting

“Nothing Can Stay Buried” by Wright Thompson (ESPN
The Magazine)
The judges wrote:
“The hallmark of a good feature story is one that sticks
with you long after you have finished reading it. This
story — chronicling the aftermath of the brutal war in
Bosnia-Herzegovina two decades later — will stick
with all of us for years to come. The writing is stellar
and moving. The narrative manages to create poetry
from the cruel reality of what was, is, and what might
have been in the life of soccer star Vedad Ibisevic. At
least one of the judges wept while reading it. Kudos to
Wright Thompson for showing us just how destructive
war can be to one person, as well as a nation.

Headline Writing
Winner: “Colombians Have Had Enough of U And Your
Spelling Mistakes” by Jason Anders (The Wall Street
The judges said:
“Rarely does a headline check all the boxes of the
craft’s best practices. This entry captures the spirit of
the story that it tops, elicits a chuckle, and conveys the
conflict at the heart of the article — with a geography
spelling lesson, to boot.”

Arts Reporting

Winner: “Ellen Gamerman for “Art or Commerce” her
series on the Role of Museums” (The Wall Street
The judges said:
“In her three-part series called “Art or Commerce”,
Ellen Gamerman, raises the big question of what IS a
museum, and what SHOULD it be? Carefully examining
three emerging trends in curatorial practice:
– letting major sponsors show their wares in museum
– letting the public choose what should be on display,
– using electronic monitors to count viewing behavior
– Gamerman asks: Is mass marketing usurping the
educational mission of museums? It’s an important
and powerful series.”

Business Feature

Winner: “Citizenship for Sale” by Peter Elkind and
Marty Jones (Fortune)
The judges wrote:
“Fortune’s top-tier reporting spotlighted a little-known
and largely unregulated immigration policy,
exemplifying the very best in contemporary business
journalism. With its exhaustive research and a
brilliantly detailed narrative, “Citizenship for Sale” laid
bare the weaknesses of a government program that
encourages American developers, at times driven by
greed, to solicit foreign investors in exchange for a
coveted EB-5 visa. The rapidly growing program
enables those of means to leapfrog the long line of
people who seek a chance at the American Dream, but
a lack of administrative oversight makes it highly
vulnerable to fraud. The judges hope that the
exemplary work by Peter Elkind and Marty Jones will
encourage much-needed scrutiny.”

Business Investigative Reporting

Winner: “Fatal Flaws” by Hilary Stout, Danielle Ivory,
Matthew L. Wald, Rebecca R. Ruiz and Hiroko Tabuchi
(The New York Times)
The judges wrote:
“Federal safety regulators dismissed complaints over
defective ignitions linked to 13 deaths in certain GM
cars. The New York Times deployed tenacious
gumshoe reporting, reviewed thousands of entries in
an agency’s public database, and used illustrative
charts and clear prose to show the human toll on
unsuspecting victims. The combined work by Hilary
Stout, Danielle Ivory, Matthew Wald, Rebecca Ruiz, and
Hiroko Tabuchi assisted in spurring a governmental
investigation that helped save lives.”

Opinion Writing

Winner: Juan Gonzalez of the (New York Daily News)
The judges wrote:
“Opinion writing and investigative reporting by one of
the most dogged New York reporters/columnists
exposed a sorry situation at the Queens library system
where the boss put his interests above patrons. The
series led to a complete — and much needed —
overhaul at the library system.

Science, Technology, Medical or Environmental

Winner: “Climate Change Takes A Village: As The
Planet Warms, by Kate Sheppard (The Huffington Post)
The judges wrote:
“Kate Sheppard’s piece on the effects of climate change
on the remote Alaskan village of Shishmaref, and its
frustrated relocation efforts, stood out in a very
competitive field. Through powerful storytelling,
extensive on-the-ground research into present and
past challenges, and evocative description that creates
a clear sense of place, Sheppard captures the heart of
the village’s story and the vulnerability of its residents,
bringing humanity to the issue of climate change. She
succeeds in showing how the microcosmic case of one
town can apply to a macroscopic crisis, asking “If we
can’t figure out how to save a village with fewer than
600 people from falling into the sea, what hope is
there for everyone else?”

Sports Reporting

Winner: “The Whistleblower’s Last Stand” by Don Van
Natta Jr. (ESPN The Magazine)
The judges wrote:
“In this well reported and well written story, Don van
Natta provides a window into the inner turmoil of the
witness at the center of one of the biggest sports
scandals in recent history. The story both broke news
and told a compelling narrative.

Spot News Photo
Winner: “Cops Shot” by Theodore Parisienne (New York
Daily News)
The judges wrote:
“This photo has all the essential elements of a Spot
News Photo; immediacy and impact. Taken in the wake
of the fatal shooting of two New York City policemen
as they sat on duty in their patrol car, this photo
captures the removal of the assailant as he was himself
subsequently gunned down. The framing and
composition to the subject is undeniable in the precise
moment of it’s capture.

Feature Photo

Winner: “Eric Garner Protest – Barclay’s Center” by
Stephanie Keith (Daily News)
The judges wrote:
“Stephanie Keith’s photo in the Daily News captures an
intense moment from the Eric Garner protest at the
Barclays Center. The image of the face-to-face
confrontation between the woman and the police
officer speaks volumes about the chasm between the
two sides of the issue.”

Sports Photo

Winner: “Gored” by Daniel Ochoa de Olza (Associated
The judges wrote:
“ This moment of drama between the bull and the
matador is emblematic of competition, albeit in both a
sport that is not often thought of as pure sport but yet
shows a definitive moment of victory by one of the
contestants. The immediacy and high key use of
framing, light and focus adds to the drama and impact
of the scene.”

Multimedia, Interactive Graphics and Animation

Winner: “Kowloon Walled City” by Staff (The Wall
Street Journal)
The judges wrote:
“The Kowloon Walled City project includes a depth and
breadth of content in one cohesive experience.
Designed for multiple devices and translated into
several languages, it was clearly built with accessibility
in mind.
The interviews, the text, image and video archives all
provided a foundation for the journalists, producers
and engineers to shape the stories of this community
and ensure it won’t be easily forgotten.”

Digital Innovation

Winner: All of those wonderful people who produced
“WNYC’s Clock Your Sleep Project”
The judges wrote:
“The team involved with WNYC’s Clock Your Sleep
Project created a strong foundational structure and
applied unique technical approaches to support the
capture of human behaviors and activities over time.
Layering in expert analysis and journalistic insights,
the result is a series of comprehensive reports unified
into one cohesive package.” (and it’s a subject we all
care about very deeply!!)

Radio or Audio Reporting

Winner: “NYPD Bruised” by Robert Lewis, Noah
Veltman and David Lewis (WNYC Radio)
The judges wrote:
“This series on the NYPD’s use of force addressed an
issue that is at the forefront in New York City as well as
the nation. The solid, deep reporting quietly exposed a
lack of accountability for officers who abuse power in
low-level arrests, then continue with long patterns of
such behavior.

Television Spot News Reporting
Winner: “The Downing of Flight M17” by Staff (ABC
The judges wrote:
“There were several strong entrants in this category,
but this one exemplified the definition of “spot news.”
ABC responded quickly by patching into a freelance
photographer who arrived on foot at the crash site,
escorted there by rebel forces in the dead of night. His
live descriptions by phone exuded spontaneity and
authenticity. We got the story as it unfolded in real

Television Feature

Winner: “Young Guns”
The judges wrote:
“ABC News’ feature story on children and guns in
America is a revealing, compelling report that
exemplifies the best of journalism. Tapping into the
network’s vast resources over the course of a year, the
staff investigated and uncovered the true realities,
dangers and myths of children, guns, and safety. Can
you teach a four year old not to touch a gun? They
found the answer. This story undoubtedly had
reverberating effects. Bravo to ABC News and the staff
that produced “Young Guns.”

Television Series or Investigative Reporting

Winner: “Kane In Your Corner: Students Restrained” by
Walt Kane, Karin Attonito, Anthony Cocco and Ed
Hannen (News 12 New Jersey)
The judges wrote:
“A probing series that takes a sobering look at the
“dirty secret” of special needs education in New Jersey:
the physical restraint of students. The series analyzes
policies and practices and challenges officials’ long
held attitudes about restraint and its impact on
students, who tell harrowing stories about their

OMNIBUS AWARDS – Open to all media, print,

Minority Focus – stories of special importance to
minority communities.
Winner: “Beyond Broken” by Sarah Ryley, Dareh
Gregorian, Laura Bult and Barry Paddock (New York
Daily News)
The judges wrote:
“The Daily News combined powerful human interest
stories, impressive amounts of data and appealing
interactive graphics to show how the NYPD’s “Broken
Windows” policing disproportionately impacts minority
neighborhoods. The evidence was presented fairly and
packaged together beautifully, rising to the top of a
very competitive category.”

Public Service Award

Winner: “Black America’s Invisible Crisis” by Lois
Beckett, Vanessa K. De Luca and Lauren Williams
(ESSENCE Magazine)
The judges wrote:
“In Black America’s Invisible Crisis, Lois Beckett goes
beyond the headlines of the failures of the Department
of Veterans Affairs to uncover the thousands of
civilians experiencing PTSD on the homefront, often in
areas already broken up by poverty and violence.
Beckett spent months drawing material from reports
and surveys and from medical workers, city
administrators, and Aireana, a sensitive young African
American mother, who shares her firsthand account of
the disorder in a story that goes beyond race and
stigma to prove that this major health crisis needs
nationwide attention and solutions.”

Check out photos from the 2015 awards show here via our Flickr account.

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