Countering the mainstream

Izzy Award 2020

by | Nov 4, 2020 | The Edge, Highlight, Izzy Award, Izzy Award Winner

The Park Center for Independent Media held the 12th annual Izzy Award ceremony Oct. 28, honoring the 2019 work of “News Inside”; the Puerto Rican organization Centro de Periodismo Investigativo (CPI, the Center for Investigative Journalism); and journalist Matt Taibbi. 

Each of the winners spoke eloquently on their work and the state of media in 2020. Watch the full ceremony here: 

 

The Izzy Award, created by Jeff Cohen, founder and former director of PCIM, is named after investigative journalist I.F. “Izzy” Stone. Each year, it honors exceptional journalists and news outlets in independent media. This year, the ceremony was held virtually, over Zoom.

PCIM Director Raza Rumi opened the ceremony saying, “Tonight is a celebration of this rich legacy of dissent of upholding the truth and speaking up.” Former Director Jeff Cohen, a judge on the Izzy selection panel, affirmed that he sees all the winners “connected shedding light on systemic racism and exploitation.”

Lawrence Bartley, founder and director of “News Inside,” accepted the award first and told his story of a 27-year prison sentence with scarce access to information. “I remember scourging through old garbage cans to find newspapers and to find something different to write about.” Bartley founded “News Inside” with The Marshall Project, and has brought the publication to 500 facilities in 38 states in less than a year. 

Carla Minet, executive director of CPI, accepted the award on the organization’s behalf. The organization published 889 pages of secret chats between former Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and other top-level officials. CPI’s reporting sparked massive protests across the island, eventually leading to the governor’s resignation. “In these times of data overload and misinformation, good journalism strives and shines. It filters what’s relevant, it explains, it shows, it compares and it analyzes.”

Matt Taibbi accepted the final award for his media criticism reporting that culminated in his book “Hate Inc.” Here, he tackles liberal and conservative media bias, particularly during the 2016 election cycle and the Iraq War. The book was published in chapters to his followers on Substack, the subscriber-based platform that supports an email newsletter.

Taibbi, who moved from reporting at Rolling Stone, said, “I now feel like I reach far more readers than I ever have before, so I think as a proof of concept for independent journalists, it offers a lot of hope that there is another route for journalists beyond traditional routes. … I think Stone proved that a single person who is dedicated to challenging the truth can have more power than even the mightiest corporations.”

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