LAURELS FOR MUCKRAKERS: Three Nation reporters have been recognized with some of the highest honors in journalism for their work in exposing corruption and injustice. Nation correspondent Jeremy Scahill has received the second annual Izzy Award for special achievement in independent journalism. The judges cited his "persistence, independence and journalistic courage" in his coverage of human rights abuses committed by private military contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, noting how his reporting "embodies the independent spirit of Izzy Stone," the legendary muckraking founder of I.F. Stone’s Weekly. Last year Scahill, a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute and the author of the bestselling Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army (NationBooks) who also reports for Democracy Now!, wrote nearly two dozen articles and dispatches for The Nation documenting contractor crimes, sparking multiple Congressional investigations and inquiries.
Aram Roston‘s probe into how Pentagon money is being used to pay off insurgents, in what amounts to an elaborate and self-defeating protection racket in Afghanistan ("How the US Funds the Taliban," November 30), is a finalist for the Daniel Pearl Award. The award is a project of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that recognizes cross-border reporting of the kind Pearl pursued for the Wall Street Journal before his murder. Roston’s report, which was supported by the Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute, attracted the attention of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and NATO officials, and triggered an ongoing Congressional investigation. Representative John Tierney, chair of the national security subcommittee of the House Oversight Committee, said that Roston’s article raised "serious allegations…that private security providers for US transportation contractors in Afghanistan are regularly paying local warlords and the Taliban for security."
A.C. Thompson, who documented racist violence by armed white vigilantes in New Orleans ("Katrina’s Hidden Race War" and "Body of Evidence," January 5, 2009) with the support of the Investigative Fund, was a finalist for the prestigious Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, and he has received the Investigative Reporters and Editors Magazine Certificate and the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. Thompson’s reports led to an FBI investigation and the empaneling of a federal grand jury in New Orleans, with indictments expected soon. Former and current police superintendents were called to testify, and three officers are under investigation in the death of Henry Glover, whose gruesome murder went uninvestigated until Thompson’s articles drew attention to it.
I.R.V. BUZZ: Instant runoff voting, the smart reform that makes majority rule possible in multi-candidate elections, is finally capturing the imagination of the opinion leaders, who just might jump-start this movement at the national level. Über-influential New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman–not a frequent recipient of praise from this magazine–started things off with a March 24 column that noted how some Republicans had voted against healthcare reform because they feared retribution in party primaries, and how Democrats are similarly fearful on other issues. "When your political system punishes lawmakers for…doing the right things, it is broken," he wrote.