Explanatory Reporting

Finalists have been announced since 1980. Full texts, photographs and cartoons are available for Journalism winners from 1995–2015 only.


2015 Zachary R. Mider of Bloomberg News

For a painstaking, clear and entertaining explanation of how so many U.S. corporations dodge taxes and why lawmakers and regulators have a hard time stopping them.

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2014 Eli Saslow The Washington Post

For his unsettling and nuanced reporting on the prevalence of food stamps in post-recession America, forcing readers to grapple with issues of poverty and dependency.

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2013 Staff The New York Times

For its penetrating look into business practices by Apple and other technology companies that illustrates the darker side of a changing global economy for workers and consumers.

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2012 David Kocieniewski The New York Times

For his lucid series that penetrated a legal thicket to explain how the nation’s wealthiest citizens and corporations often exploited loopholes and avoided taxes.

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2011 Mark Johnson, Kathleen Gallagher, Gary Porter, Lou Saldivar and Alison Sherwood Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

For their lucid examination of an epic effort to use genetic technology to save a 4-year-old boy imperiled by a mysterious disease, told with words, graphics, videos and other images.

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2010 Michael Moss and members of The New York Times Staff

For relentless reporting on contaminated hamburger and other food safety issues that, in print and online, spotlighted defects in federal regulation and led to improved practices.

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2009 Bettina Boxall and Julie Cart Los Angeles Times

For their fresh and painstaking exploration into the cost and effectiveness of attempts to combat the growing menace of wildfires across the western United States.

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2008 Amy Harmon The New York Times

For her striking examination of the dilemmas and ethical issues that accompany DNA testing, using human stories to sharpen her reports.

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2007 Kenneth R. Weiss, Usha Lee McFarling, reporters, and Rick Loomis, photographer, of the Los Angeles Times

For their richly portrayed reports on the world's distressed oceans, telling the story in print and online, and stirring reaction among readers and officials.

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2006 David Finkel The Washington Post

For his ambitious, clear-eyed case study of the United States government's attempt to bring democracy to Yemen.

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2005 Gareth Cook The Boston Globe

For explaining, with clarity and humanity, the complex scientific and ethical dimensions of stem cell research.

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2004 Kevin Helliker and Thomas M. Burton The Wall Street Journal

For their groundbreaking examination of aneurysms, an often overlooked medical condition that kills thousands of Americans each year.

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2003 Staff The Wall Street Journal

For its clear, concise and comprehensive stories that illuminated the roots, significance and impact of corporate scandals in America. (Moved by the jury from the Public Service category.)

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2002 Staff The New York Times

For its informed and detailed reporting, before and after the September 11th attacks on America, that profiled the global terrorism network and the threats it posed.

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2001 Staff Chicago Tribune

For "Gateway to Gridlock," its clear and compelling profile of the chaotic American air traffic system.

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2000 Eric Newhouse Great Falls (Mont.) Tribune

For his vivid examination of alcohol abuse and the problems it creates in the community.

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1999 Richard Read The Oregonian, Portland

For vividly illustrating the domestic impact of the Asian economic crisis by profiling the local industry that exports frozen french fries.

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1998 Paul F. Salopek Chicago Tribune

For his enlightening profile of the Human Genome Diversity Project, which seeks to chart the genetic relationship among all people.

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For an intimate and troubling portrayal of how Colorado’s relaxed marijuana laws have drawn hundreds of parents to the state to seek miracle cures for desperately ill children.

For using data analysis to reveal how an elite cadre of lawyers enjoy extraordinary access to the U.S. Supreme Court, raising doubts about the ideal of equal justice.

2014 Dennis Overbye of The New York Times

For his authoritative illumination of the race by two competing teams of 3,000 scientists and technicians over a seven-year period to discover what physicists call the "God particle."

2014 Les Zaitz of The Oregonian, Portland

For chilling narratives that, at personal risk to him and his sources, revealed how lethal Mexican drug cartels infiltrated Oregon and other regions of the country.

2013 Dan Egan of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

For his exhaustive examination of the struggle to keep Asian carp and other invasive species from reaching the Great Lakes and ultimately all of the nation’s inland waters, a story enhanced by animated graphics.

2013 Tony Bartelme of The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.

For his stories that helped readers understand the complex factors driving up their insurance bills.

2012 Tom Frank USA Today

For his sharply focused exploration of inflated pensions for state and local employees, enhancing stories with graphic material to show how state legislators pump up retirement benefits in creative but unconscionable ways.

2012 The Wall Street Journal Staff

For its tenacious exploration of how personal information is harvested from the cellphones and computers of unsuspecting Americans by corporations and public officials in a largely unmonitored realm of modern life.

2011 Staff The Wall Street Journal

For its penetration of the shadowy world of fraud and abuse in Medicare, probing previously concealed government databases to identify millions of dollars in waste and corrupt practices.

2011 Staff The Washington Post

For its exploration of how the military is using trauma surgery, brain science and other techniques both old and new to reduce fatalities among the wounded in warfare, telling the story with words, images and other tools.

2010 Dan Egan Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

For his path-breaking coverage of how invasive aquatic creatures have disrupted the ecosystem of the Great Lakes and other bodies of water, illuminating the science and politics of an important national issue.

2010 The New York Times Staff, and notably Gina Kolata

For their exploration of the lack of progress in the 40-year war on cancer, combining explanation of scientific complexity and the exposure of myths with an empathetic portrayal of the human suffering caused by the disease.

2010 Kirsten Grind, Jeanne Lang Jones and Alwyn Scott of the Puget Sound (Wash.) Business Journal, a weekly

For their meticulous examination of the collapse of Washington Mutual, the biggest bank failure in U.S. history, plumbing causes and raising troubling questions about federal regulation.

2009 Adam Liptak The New York Times

For his lucid exposition of how the cornerstones of the American judicial system differ from those in other democratic nations, awakening readers to the benefits and drawbacks of those differences.

2009 Robert O’Harrow Jr. and Brady Dennis The Washington Post

For their vivid, richly documented explanation of why AIG, the insurance industry giant, nearly collapsed and what lessons the crisis holds for the nation’s policymakers.

2008 Beth Daley The Boston Globe

For her evocative exploration of how global warming affects New Englanders, from ice fishermen to blueberry farmers.

2008 Staff The Oregonian, Portland

For its richly illustrated reports on a breakthrough in producing the microprocessors that are a technological cornerstone of modern life.

2007 Joanne Kimberlin and Bill Sizemore The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, VA

For their provocative examination of the United States' increasing reliance on private military personnel.

2007 Staff The New York Times

For its multi-faceted explanation of the growing menace of diabetes, especially among the poor and vulnerable, that elicited a range of public and private responses.

2006 Debbie Cenziper The Miami Herald

For her deeply researched examination of breakdowns in hurricane forecasting that often endanger lives.

2006 Mark Johnson and Kawanza Newson The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

For their riveting chronicle of a teenage girl's miraculous recovery from a rabies infection that medicine had previously considered fatal.

2005 Staff Newsday, Long Island, NY

For its serious, energetic and substantive series examining three decades of hip-hop music in American life.

2005 William J. Broad and David E. Sanger The New York Times

For their aggressive reporting and lucid writing that cast light on the shadowy process of nuclear proliferation.

2004 Erika Niedowski The Baltimore Sun

For her illuminating account of how one of America's best hospitals let an infant die of a preventable condition and how the devastated mother joined with the hospital to spare other families such heartache.

2004 Bernard Wolfson, William Heisel and Chris Knap Orange County Register

For their ambitious exploration of the quality of care at 26 local hospitals and the creation of a "report card" to help consumers make medical decisions.

2003 Jim Haner, John B. O'Donnell and Kimberly A. C. Wilson The Baltimore Sun

For "Justice Undone," their in-depth examination of the city's disturbingly low conviction rate in murder cases.

2003 Staff Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

For its painstaking explanation of chroni'wasting disease among deer in Wisconsin, and the impact of the affliction on the state's citizens, communities and culture.

2002 David Finkel The Washington Post

For his illuminating series of articles on the lives and journeys of international migrants.

2002 Staff The New York Times

For its sustained explanatory reporting on the nature of the structural damage at "Ground Zero," the lower Manhattan area where the World Trade Center towers collapsed.

2001 Louise Kiernan Chicago Tribune

For her moving and humane portrait of a young mother killed by a falling skyscraper window, its effect on her three-year-old daughter, and the negligence of the company involved.

2001 Staff The New York Times

For its insightful coverage of the completed deciphering of the human genome, which explained the scientific context for understanding the chemical string that makes up DNA, as well as the discovery's implications for the future.

2000 Brent Walth and Alex Pulaski The Oregonian

For their series on how politics influences pesticide regulation.

2000 Michael Winerip The New York Times

For his profile of a mentally ill man who pushed a woman to her death before an onrushing subway train, a case used by the writer for a broad overview of deficiencies in the mental health care system.

1999 Tom Brune The Seattle Times

For his revealing analysis of the Washington state initiative on affirmative action that challenged accepted notions about practices that had been in place for three decades.

1999 William Carlsen and Reynolds Holding San Francisco Chronicle

For their compelling series chronicling the epidemic of health risks associated with the reckless use of unsafe hypodermic needles.

1998 David Barstow St. Petersburg Times

For his narrative portrait of the legal struggle against the tobacco industry, centered on the personalities who were key in reaching a tentative settlement of billions of dollars.

1998 Linda Greenhouse The New York Times

For her consistently illuminating coverage of the United States Supreme Court. (Moved by the Board to the Beat Reporting category.)