Winners in 2020 for work published in 2019
Ages at time of story publication.
Caroline Chen, 29, for the ProPublica series “Heartless Hospital,” co-published with New Jersey Advance Media and WNYC, an investigation of a hospital transplant team’s efforts to keep a vegetative patient on life support and mislead federal regulators, while failing to consult with the patient’s family on treatment decisions.
“I recall being swept away by the power of Caroline Chen’s series ‘Heartless Hospital.’ It exposed an outrageous reality. Imagine doctors keeping a heart transplant patient with no hope of survival alive in a vegetative state in order to bolster their one-year survival statistics and keep federal funding. There’s not any doubt that’s what happened at Newark Beth Israel Hospital. Caroline Chen had it on tape, a tape that came about from long and painstaking work, building relationships of trust with sources. Her story led to public investigations and reforms that will help patients.”
– John Harris, Livingston Awards national judge
Assia Boundaoui, 33, of PBS’s POV for “The Feeling of Being Watched,” a deeply personal, riveting documentary uncovering a two-decade FBI probe on more than 600 Muslim American mosques, businesses, charities, and private individuals across the U.S. and examining the corrosive impact of perpetual surveillance on the community of Bridgeview, Illinois that Boundaoui’s Algerian-American family has long called home.
“When I clicked on Assia Boundaoui’s video ‘The Feeling of Being Watched,’ the journalist cop in me was wary. Feelings. Journalists should deal in facts. Yet as I watched, I realized feelings, in fact, did matter. The humanity she dared share, showed the story more powerfully than a keep your distance reporter could. We watched her interview her mother, brother, and members of the Muslim community. We learned that the FBI was indeed watching them. She filed freedom of information requests. She asked tough questions to government officials who lied to her. She grew before our eyes into a truthteller. She revealed that for over 20 years the Chicago FBI profiled a Muslim community, tracked them, and gathered information on an entire community. I say it made us all watch and feel – really feel.”
– Ken Auletta, Livingston Awards national judge
Brett Murphy, 28, of USA TODAY for “Show of Force,” a searing investigation of a 2008 U.S. military attack on its own security forces in Azizabad, Afghanistan, killing dozens of civilians, including as many as 60 children, and the subsequent attempts by the U.S. Defense Department to downplay the tragedy.
“I congratulate Brett Murphy for deciding to go back and go through the evidence that had been kept away from public consumption – from going to Afghanistan, to getting thousands of pages of military records that had not been made public, to doing the leg work in the United States, and to talking to soldiers who had been involved. Of course, the Pentagon didn’t want to talk about this. Of course, they wanted it to be kept secret, but Brett uncovered it and did an extraordinary job. It’s not only the stories of the day that are important, but it’s the stories that you go back to look at and come out with a different truth – the truth that wasn’t known at the time – that are important. We absolutely need that now.”
– Christiane Amanpour, Livingston Awards national judge