This category recognizes exceptional journalism that holds powerful institutions and/or people accountable for their actions and, by doing so, leads to demonstrable change that benefits Californians. The submission should include a short cover letter explaining the impact or outcome of the work. Judges will consider overall impact, depth of reporting, and the use of today’s technology to reach the audience. Entries may be in any format including text, audio or video. Entries are limited to three stories.
Jack Dolan, Kim Christensen, Brittny Mejia and Melody Gutierrez
“Troubled Doctors,” Los Angeles Times
Malfeasance of doctors and the failure of state regulators is not a new story in California, but the depth and energy of reporting by the Los Angeles Times sets a new standard for this coverage. The documentation of numerous doctors who committed life-altering errors was disturbing, deeply detailed and incredibly well-documented by the team of reporters, who build a database to track the bad docs and reported the ease many of the worst had in avoiding the loss of their medical licenses and thus continuing to practice — and continuing to harm patients. The work never lost track of the human toll, which included tracking down victims as far away as Guadalajara. The work included doctors who preyed sexually on their patients, just adding to the outrage. Kudos to the Times for bringing all this to light. The regulatory (the term seems almost laughable) board vows to do better and legislation has been introduced as a result.
“The COVID Lab,” CBS13
A billion-dollar state funded Covid testing facility was supposed to help keep Californians safe during the pandemic. But a CBS13 series uncovered incidents of lab technicians asleep while processing COVID samples, test swabs found in restrooms and tens of thousands of inconclusive COVID results. Reporter Julie Watts revealed the cause of those bad results and what could have prevented them. She also showed the negative impact the bad results had on the daily lives of people across the state. The stories led to the problems being corrected and legislation being introduced to ensure accountability and transparency at testing labs.
“California’s Broken System of Nursing Home Oversight,” CalMatters
In California, you need a license from the state to drive a car, catch a salmon, shoot a deer, or run a nursing home. But when it comes to licensing nursing homes, the state’s licensing system is as reliable as a fun house mirror. The horrors were reported in depressing detail by Jocelyn Wiener of CalMatters, which focused on the record of Los Angeles businessman who runs dozens of homes through a web of companies and who isn’t licensed by the state to operate them. Almost as galling is the Newsom administration, none of whose administrators would allow themselves to be interviewed. They complied with public record requests but did not have the courage to sign their tersely worded emails. Despite the challenges, Wiener wrote a compelling, deeply reported indictment of state agencies and the largest nursing home operator in California. In response, the federal government improved public access to nursing home violations and the state Legislature conducted hearings into changes to laws that have thus far been inadequate to regulate this important industry.
Jaclyn Cosgrove, Louis Sahagún and Matthew Ormseth
“Illegal Pot Farms,” Los Angeles Times
This work was perhaps the best read in the competition and a classic example of reporters embarked on one story finding an even better one.
Peter Bhatia, editor, Detroit Free Press; Rob Gunnison, former director of school affairs, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism; and Manny Ramos, media trainer and former TV reporter