The Institute on Political Journalism hosted its annual awards ceremony on Wednesday, June 29 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Seasoned and collegiate journalists accepted their awards, along with cash prizes totaling $18,500, in front of an audience of 79 IPJ students as well as intern sponsors and TFAS supporters.
“Our students see this as a keystone event of the summer,” said IPJ Director Joe Starrs. “They really appreciate the opportunity to soak up the atmosphere at the National Press Club, talk with some of the best journalists in the business and hear what it takes to produce an award winning news story.”
Mark Schoofs received $5,000 and this year’s Clark Mollenhoff Award for Excellence in Investigative Reporting on behalf of a team of reporters from The Wall Street Journal for their series “Secrets of the System.” Schoofs and his co-writers revealed how concealed government databases can be used to expose waste and potential fraud in Medicare. The stories generated investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice.
“All the reporters this year used data and statistics in creative and substantive ways,” said Starrs. “The data and stats enhanced the story of each entry and added credibility and depth to the basic story narrative.”
Ronald Cambell, staff writer for The Orange County Register in Santa Ana, Calif., also took home $5,000 with the Award for Excellence in Economic Reporting for his four-part series “A State Powered by Immigrants.”
“The statistics allow you to see the deeper story. But you can only get there if you understand the data,” said Cambell.
Cambell’s stories exposed records that proved the economy in California is dependent upon illegal immigrants for labor. The series highlighted how California’s middle and upper classes have become addicted to low-wage immigrant help while poorly educated native workers who might have taken these jobs at higher pay are suffering.
“From one grizzled old journalist to you young journalists: go out there and learn to read the data. Go out and learn to read the statistics. Don’t let the government tell you what the data says,” Cambell advised IPJ students.
Ben Schreckinger of The Brown Daily Herald won a cash prize of $5,000 and the Robert Novak Collegiate Award for his story about Brown University’s decision to handle rape cases internally without notifying law enforcement. Second and third place winners from The UCLA Daily Bruin and the Yale Daily News were also recognized at the ceremony and received cash prizes of $2,500 and $1,000.
Schreckinger’s winning pieces can be found online:
- “Former student claims misdeeds by U. officials in sealed case”
- “Former student’s case against University unsealed”
- “Recent grad sues Brown; says U. ‘not above the law’”
“Each winning entry relied on good old fashion shoe leather reporting,” commented Starrs. “Tracking down sources, painstaking research, knocking on doors, making that extra phone call and going the extra mile to confirm the facts pays off.”