New York Times, KHOU-Houston Win IRE Medals For Excellence In Investigative Journalism

ire_medal_3.29.10.jpgThe New York Times and KHOU-Houston are both recipients of this year’s IRE Medals for their respective investigative work. The annual IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors) contest “helps identify the techniques and resources used to complete each story.” Winning entries are featured as part of the IRE Resource Center in order to allow members to learn from each others’ work.

The New York Times garnered its medal for “Toxic Water,” which was researched and written by Charles Duhigg, Matthew Bloch, Matt Ericson, Tyson Evans, Brian Hamman, Griff Palmer, Karl Russell, Derek Willis, Brent McDonald and Zach Wise. The piece looked into the U.S. government’s failure to protect the country’s water supply. According to IRE’s judging panel:

Duhigg and his team found only a fractured collection of enforcement databases on the topic. So, they built their own. Duhigg obtained records by sending out more than 500 FOIA requests to every state and more than a dozen federal agencies. The result? A sweeping indictment of the system. The project drove home the government’s shoddy record with compelling human stories and searchable online databases and interactive graphics. The series led to crackdowns, significant new environmental rules and new appropriations for clean-water projects.

KHOU-Houston’s piece, titled “Under Fire: Discrimination & Corruption in the Texas National Guard,” was a result of a collaborative effort by Mark Greenblatt, David Raziq, Keith Tomshe, Chris Henao, Robyn Hughes and Keith Connors. The team looked into the so-called “Vagisil Award” doled out to women in the Texas National Guard, despite encountering obstacles from personnel at nearly every turn. According to IRE judges:

[T]he team — which also included photographer/editor Keith Tomshe and graphic artist Robyn Hughes — found a system of misogynistic actions that went beyond humiliation. In some cases, female officers were being disciplined or even discharged despite exemplary service records. Data and documents gathered by the team showed a systematic refusal to consider women for top posts, and swift punishment for any who complained about the male power structure. In the end, this two-year investigation resulted in the Texas governor firing three top generals in the Texas National Guard and the state legislature changing the way it oversees Texas Guard operations.

For a complete look at this year’s winners — and links to their investigative pieces — check out IRE’s Web site.