2016 Knight International Award Winners Expose Rampant Corruption
NEW YORK - Investigative reporters from Bosnia and Mexico who have exposed financial crimes and misconduct at the highest levels are the winners of the 2016 Knight International Journalism Award, the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) announced. The award recognizes excellent reporting that has had major impact.
The recipients are Miranda Patrucic, a Sarajevo-based reporter who has uncovered corruption from Azerbaijan to Uzbekistan, and the investigative team at Aristegui Noticias, a Mexican news site led by one of the country’s best-known journalists, Carmen Aristegui.
“These investigative journalists have changed the world by revealing shady deals involving top officials,” said ICFJ President Joyce Barnathan. “They stand out for their breakthrough reporting.”
The award is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which funds ICFJ's Knight International Journalism Fellowships. The fellows seed new ideas and services that deepen coverage, expand news delivery and engage citizens in the editorial process.
“The winners reinforce the vital need for quality, in-depth journalism across the globe,” said Jennifer Preston, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism. “They have worked to push the boundaries of storytelling, delivering news that not only engages but effects change.”
Patrucic, a lead reporter and editor for the Sarajevo-based Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), has played a pivotal role in probes that prompted government investigations across Europe and Central Asia. Her coverage has led to resignations, prison sentences and penalties for top leaders. Working on the Panama Papers project, she helped expose a web of secret companies in offshore havens allegedly designed to hide the wealth of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s family.
Her investigation of payments by two European telecom companies to Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of Uzbekistan’s president, led to criminal investigations and a nearly $800 million settlement with one of the telecoms. Her report on how Montenegro’s top leaders exploited the country’s main bank for personal gain led the European Union to temporarily delay Montenegro’s application for EU membership.
The Aristegui Noticias team is known for exposés of Mexican power brokers despite the risks. Over the past decade, more than 100 Mexican journalists have been murdered or have disappeared.
The team uncovered a conflict of interest involving the Mexican first lady’s purchase of a $7 million home on credit from a government contractor. The “Casa Blanca” investigation exposed a powerful network of public officials and contractors doing business through favoritism. Without admitting wrongdoing, the government canceled a high-speed rail construction contract with the company.
The journalists also participated in the Panama Papers investigation, reporting on Mexican figures with massive holdings in overseas tax havens, including the builder of the “Casa Blanca.”
A prestigious panel of judges selected the winners, who will be honored on November 14 at ICFJ’s annual gala, in Washington, DC. Click on the judge's name--CBS's Jacqueline Barnathan, USA Today's David Callaway, University of Michigan's Lynette Clemetson, McClatchy's Anders Gyllenhaal, and DC news anchor Leon Harris--to listen to their comments about the inspiring winners.
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The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.