Excellence in Local Reporting
Christopher Baxter, 28, of The (N.J.) Star-Ledger for, "Private Schools, Hidden Riches"
Baxter's investigation of spending practices at New Jersey private schools for students with disabilities uncovered questionable business practices, nepotism, high executive salaries and the private use of luxury cars. The schools are fully funded with taxpayer dollars, yet Baxter revealed how weak rules and spotty government oversight allow them to spend in ways few would tolerate of public schools.
Christopher Baxter, 28
“Few tasks in journalism are more important and exciting than mining public records for the truth,” says Baxter. “Using their power, this investigation affirmed that when no one is watching government programs, the public can and often will be victimized by greed and waste."
Excellence in National Reporting
Ellen Gabler, 33, and Allan James Vestal, 24 of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for, "Deadly Delays"
Gabler found that systematic delays in testing blood samples of newborn babies for deadly disorders led to preventable deaths and disabilities. She spent five months requesting – fighting for – data from every state. Using that data, Vestal built an interactive database providing a look at how individual hospitals in 50 states perform at newborn screening. The series spurred dozens of states to make significant changes to address delays from keeping labs open on weekends to identifying problem hospitals and providing them with regular performance reports.
Ellen Gabler, 33, and Allan James Vestal, 24
“Babies lives were at stake and no one had been paying attention," said the team of Gabler and Vestal. "Reaction to the stories was immediate and widespread. Hospital and state officials could no longer deny what was happening. It was right there in the data.”
Excellence in International Reporting
Luke Mogelson, 31, of The New York Times Magazine for, "The Dream Boat"
Posing as Georgian asylum seekers, Luke Mogelson and photographer Joel Van Houdt, paid smugglers for passage from Kabul to Jakarta to the Australian territory of Easter Island. Fifty-seven refugees, including nine children, endured a three-day journey on an unseaworthy 30-foot vessel. Mogelson describes the desperation of people willing to risk their lives to reach a country that will likely turn them away.
Luke Mogelson, 31
"This is the subtext to the plight of every refugee," wrote Mogelson. "Whatever hardship he endures, he endures because it beats the hardship he escaped. Every story of exile implies the sadder story of a homeland."