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Panama Papers investigation wins George Polk Award

The Polk Awards judges lauded the reporting collaboration for sparking probes and reforms aimed at combating tax dodging and money laundering.

The Panama Papers investigation has been honored with a George Polk Award for financial journalism, the Polk awards’ sponsor, Long Island University, has announced.

The Polk Awards judges lauded the reporting collaboration for sparking official investigations and reforms aimed at combating global tax dodging and money laundering. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Süddeutsche Zeitung, McClatchy, the Miami Herald, Fusion and more than 100 other media partners worked together to investigate a trove of leaked documents from inside Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-headquartered law firm that sells offshore companies and other hard-to-unravel corporate structures.

The honor marks the 13th time that ICIJ’s work on the Panama Papers investigation has been recognized with national or international journalism accolades. Other honors have included the Perfil Freedom of Expression Award, the Data Journalism Award for investigation of the year, the Online Journalism Award for innovation in investigative reporting and the Barlett and Steele Gold Medal for business and financial reporting. ICIJ partners in Germany, Ecuador, Turkey, Zimbabwe and other countries have also won recognition for their work on the project.

“The Polk Award and other honors are an important recognition of the value of cross-border collaborations,” ICIJ’s director, Gerard Ryle, said. “This project wouldn’t have been possible if our colleagues at Süddeutsche Zeitung hadn’t been willing to share the Panama Papers leak with us and other media partners. Some stories are so complex and so global they can only be unlocked when journalists are willing to share information and support each other.”

The George Polk Awards are given out each year to honor “special achievement in journalism.” They place “a premium on investigative and enterprising reporting that gains attention and achieves results.” The awards were established in 1949 to commemorate George Polk, a CBS correspondent murdered in 1948 while covering the Greek civil war.

Other winners in this year’s Polk Awards include the Washington Post, the Arizona Republic, The Marshall Project, National Public Radio, the Houston Chronicle, The Atlantic, The New York Times and ProPublica.

“This election year was a tough one for journalism,” John Darnton, curator of the Polk Awards, said. “We’ve seen fake news, trite news, disinformation campaigns and charges of biased coverage. But the Polk winners, chosen from some 500 submissions, show there are still bright spots. A vibrant press continues to inform, expose, tell the truth and occasionally fill us all with outrage at injustice.”

Winners of the 2016 awards will be honored April 7 at a luncheon at the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan. The journalist and author Charlayne Hunter-Gault will read the award citations.

Hunter-Gault will also moderate this year’s David J. Steinberg Seminar of the George Polk Awards, “Covering the Trump Presidency,” on April 6 at LIU Brooklyn’s Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts. David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post, Alex MacGillis of ProPublica and ICIJ’s deputy director, Marina Walker Guevara, will take part in the seminar. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

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