A series of stories detailing allegations against several high-ranking Philadelphia Police Department officials has earned a team of reporters from the Philadelphia Daily News the 2013 Larry Weiss Award for Investigative Journalism and a $10,000 prize.
“Bad Brass” is by Barbara Laker, David Gambacorta and Dana DiFilippo.
“The Daily News report exposing under-reported misconduct by police officials exemplifies solid investigative journalism,” said Temple journalism Professor Linn Washington, who judged the entries with New York Times reporter Eric Lipton and Karen Frillman, enterprise editor at WNYC.
Two other entries received Special Recognition Awards, which include a $2,500 prize:
- “Cash Machine,” by Isaiah Thompson, Philadelphia City Paper — Statistics show the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office pursues far more cases of civil asset forfeiture than other units across Pennsylvania and beyond. Thompson’s report unveiled a “forfeiture machine” that ignores guilt or innocence of property owners while generating millions of dollars in revenue for the D.A. and police department.
- “Used Mattresses,” by Jeff Cole, Gary Scurka and Mark LaValla, Fox29 — Selling used mattresses is legal as long as they are properly refurbished and clearly marked. It’s an inexpensive alternative to new mattresses, which can cost hundreds of dollars. But this “Fox29 Investigates” story found problems in the way mattresses are cleaned, labeled and even made safe from fire.
The Weiss Award for Investigative Journalism was established in 2012 through the vision and generosity of local business leader Larry Weiss, whose business efforts are focused in graphic arts. It is administered by the Temple University Center for Public Interest Journalism.
“Our communities benefit greatly from the work of our investigative journalists,” Weiss said. “I hope this award encourages more reporters to devote their resources to this essential part of journalism.”
The Center for Public Interest Journalism is housed within Temple’s School of Media and Communication.
“CPIJ was created in 2010 to support programming and projects intended to improve the quality and quantity of public interest news and reporting in the Greater Philadelphia area,” says Thomas Jacobson, interim dean of the School of Media and Communication. “The quality of this year’s Weiss Award winners certainly reveals a promising future for investigative journalism in our area.”
The awards will be presented at an April 18 luncheon at WHYY in Philadelphia.