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California Watch, KQED win IRE medal for 'On Shaky Ground'

We are proud to pass along more good news today at the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Our California Watch investigation produced in collaboration with KQED, "On Shaky Ground," was honored this morning with a rare, prestigious medal from Investigative Reporters and Editors.

The 19-month series detailed major regulatory shortcomings in the way the state protects children and teachers from seismic threats, and it has prompted sweeping reforms that will help make schools safer.

“Despite devastating cutbacks across the news business, investigative reporting is alive and well, and really making a difference in our society,” Lea Thompson, contest committee co-chairwoman, said in a statement. “The judges not only saw superb digging, but also perseverance in the face of what often seemed insurmountable odds by large and small news organizations working in print, TV, radio and online.”

The series earlier won a national Scripps Howard Award in the public service category.

IRE honored California Watch and KQED in the multi-platform reporting category and named Corey G. Johnson, Erica Perez, Kendall Taggart, Agustin Armendariz, Michael Montgomery, Anna Werner and Krissy Clark for their outstanding work.

The judges said:

"On Shaky Ground" was an extraordinary effort examining seismic safeguards in place to protect California’s schoolchildren from earthquakes. Reporters dug through more than 30,000 pages of documents, created online maps and databases and visited schools throughout the state to get the story. It took 19 months, but the reporters found California officials abrogated their oversight duties and allowed more than 42,000 children to attend schools with serious safety issues. The project had astonishing breadth, depth and creativity. The stories were published in more than 150 news outlets and translated into four languages, and video segments appeared in every major California media market. California Watch created an iPhone app to show local residents their proximity to fault zones and even a coloring book explaining it all to schoolchildren. The hard work paid off: State lawmakers ordered audits and investigations, and new state standards were created to allow schools to more easily tap into a fund to repair seismic hazards.

Additionally, California Watch’s series "Decoding Prime," about aggressive billing practices at a Southern California hospital chain, was also a finalist in the multi-platform category.

Filed under: Inside the Newsroom

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