ICIJ award winners announced

Staffers at the Wall Street Journal and Uppdrag granskning Swedish Television are the winners of the 2013 Daniel Pearl awards for the world’s best cross-border investigative reporting.

The winners were announced yesterday evening at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Wall Street Journal’s prize-winning investigation examined the spread of drug-resistant form of tuberculosis.  Uppdrag granskning’s investigation exposed the role of a powerful telecommunications company in aiding crackdowns by dictatorships.

The awards are presented annually by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. This year’s submissions were reported in a total of 86 different countries, and the winners were selected from six finalists chosen earlier this fall.

“It is an honor to be able to recognize these remarkable investigations,” said ICIJ director Gerard Ryle. “These are stories that made a difference, and reflect incredible skill and courage by the reporters.”

In the United States category, the prize went to Geeta Anand, Betsy McKay and Gautam Naik of the Wall Street Journal, for their exposé of a deadly strain of drug-resistant TB that swept across India and beyond. They found that the disease was exacerbated by a World Health Organization policy that encouraged countries to prioritize regular TB at the expense of drug-resistant strains, and that Indian health authorities had sought to suppress evidence of the disease’s spread. The reporters risked contracting TB by choosing not wear masks when interacting with patients.

“Great investigative journalism comes not just from smart reporting, critical though that is; it needs to be conceived and framed well, and told in ways that engage and energize its audience,” wrote the judges.  “On all those scores, the Journal's series hit the mark.” 

In the International category, the award went to Joachim Dyfvermark, Sven Bergman and Fredrik Laurin of Uppdrag granskning, for their investigation of the Swedish telecom giant TeliaSonera’s collaboration with dictatorships in Central Asia. Their reporting revealed that TeliaSonera had helped oppressive regimes track dissidents and human rights activists, and paid extensive bribes to gain access to the market in Uzbekistan.

“At a time when surveillance by governments and security services is one of the hottest topics in global human rights, the Swedish Television series raised timely and discomforting questions about the corporate telecommunications company’s ‘look-the-other-way’ relationships with repressive and evil regimes,” wrote the judges.

A special citation was awarded to Gary Marx and David Jackson of the Chicago Tribune for their report on of how fugitives charged with rape, murder and other violent felonies easily evaded justice simply by crossing America’s borders.

Selections this year were made by an international panel of judges:

  • Reg Chua (US), editor for Data and Innovation at Thomson Reuters.
  • Bill Birnbauer (Australia), senior lecturer in journalism at Monash University in Melbourne, and longtime investigative reporter at The Sunday Age and The Age newspapers.
  • Margo Smit (The Netherlands), director of the Dutch-Flemish association of investigative journalists, VVOJ, and teacher of TV journalism at Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.
  • Marianne Szegedy-Maszak (US), journalist and author whose work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, The New Republic, Newsweek, and the Los Angeles Times.