The Park Center for Independent Media (PCIM) at Ithaca College has announced that this year’s Izzy Award “for outstanding achievement in independent media” will be shared by nonprofit newsrooms in New York and Chicago for exposing corruption that harmed low-income residents of those cities; independent journalist Jenni Monet for her weekly newsletter giving voice to Native American communities; and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, for its Pandora Papers exposé.
PCIM will host an online award ceremony on Tuesday, April 26, at 6:30 p.m. EDT, featuring speeches from the honorees followed by a Q&A session.
An investigation by Greg B. Smith of THE CITY, a nonprofit newsroom based in New York, uncovered how 5,000 public housing apartments in buildings long ago deemed cleared of contamination contained lead paint.
Smith’s incisive reporting called out the continuing legacy of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)’s failure to ensure the wellbeing of its residents. The stories of two families, both consisting of mothers trying to protect their young children from their apartments’ cracking lead paint and sagging structure, illustrate the squalor that accompanied the company’s falsified lead disclosures. THE CITY’s reports pushed NYCHA to re-inspect one family’s home, and after ensuing scrutiny, NYCHA was given $25 million to address health and safety emergencies, including $7 million for health hazards from lead paint.
The judges commented: “Such big-city nonprofit newsrooms are crucial because corporate media too often overlook major stories affecting the urban poor.”
Better Government Association and Block Club Chicago
Two nonprofit newsrooms — Better Government Association and Block Club Chicago — undertook trailblazing reporting on corruption in the healthcare system and its damaging impacts on low-income people. Together, the two newsrooms published an explosive series on corruption at Loretto Hospital, a safety-net medical center serving mostly Black and Latino residents on Chicago’s West Side. BGA’s investigation, “Milking Medicaid,” exposed that when Illinois privatized its healthcare program for the poor, hundreds of millions of dollars in profits shifted to insurance companies and away from medical providers and Medicaid recipients.
These investigations led to an FBI probe of Loretto Hospital’s vaccination program and have revealed the malfeasant conflict of interest at the top of Illinois’ Medicaid program.
“The impact of their stories has been tremendous,” said the judges, “bringing down a greedy elite of politicians, businessmen, hospital administrators, board members, and doctors, while narrating the stories of patients’ and workers’ incredible courage to act to expose cruel malpractice and vaccine scandals at Loretto Hospital.”
Jenni Monet for Indigenously: Decolonizing Your Newsfeed
With Indigenously, Jenni Monet explores the beauty of conservation and community from her travels in Alaska, and reports on the history of violence and injustice against Native Americans. Monet has articulated the pain of disproportionate deaths and disappearances of Native women and girls and reminds that the momentary shock of headlines is “a lived experience every day.”
Monet’s free weekly newsletter fills in the gaps left by public education and media ecosystems that fail to educate and inform Americans about the past and present of Native American communities in the United States. The judges called Indigenously “a brave weekly newsletter, like Izzy Stone’s, on people and issues that mainstream journalists tend to ignore.”
International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
The Pandora Papers investigation amounts to the largest journalism partnership in history, drawing from the largest ever leak of confidential offshore financial documents. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) documented numerous stories that revealed the secretive system that allows the world’s rich to hide money and dodge taxes. ICIJ’s reporting has instigated calls among dozens of countries for tougher laws, public hearings, and government investigations. This latest reporting partnership of ICIJ exposed tax havens within the U.S., a nation that has criticized others for enabling money laundering.
The judges noted, “As the most extensive collaboration in the history of journalism, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists merits special Izzy recognition for undertaking — and succeeding in — a cooperative endeavor considered virtually impossible by conventional journalistic wisdom.”
The Izzy Award is named for I. F. “Izzy” Stone, the dissident journalist who launched I. F. Stone’s Weekly in 1953 and questioned McCarthyism, the Vietnam War, racial injustice, and government deceit. This year’s judges were Jeff Cohen, founding PCIM director and founder of FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting); Linda Jue, editor-at-large for the investigate news site 100Reporters and contributing investigative editor for palabra., the innovative news site of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists; Robert W. McChesney, professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Raza Rumi, director of the Park Center for Independent Media; and Patricia Rodriguez, associate professor and chair of the Department of Politics at Ithaca College.