Reynolds Center announces Bartlett & Steele Awards


October 1, 2013

A Tampa Bay Times/Center for Investigative Reporting joint project, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have won gold, silver and bronze awards, respectively, in the seventh annual Barlett & Steele Awards for Investigative Business Journalism, the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism announced today.

Named for the renowned investigative team of Don Barlett and Jim Steele, whose numerous awards include two Pulitzer Prizes, these annual awards, funded by the Reynolds Center, celebrate the best in investigative business journalism. Download Full Image

GOLD: “America’s Worst Charities,” by Kris Hundley and Kendall Taggart in a joint project of the Tampa Bay Times and The Center for Investigative Reporting, received the top gold award of $5,000. Reporters identified charities that steered as much as 95 percent of donations to boiler-room operations and direct-mail companies, leaving only a token amount to help those in need. They assembled interactive databases to help readers examine the worst 50 charities and state enforcement actions against thousands more organizations.

“These articles provide a connection between terrific database research and well-written narrative reporting and editing,” said the judges, noting that the project also provided regulators and journalists around the country with a resource and methodology for screening the performance of charitable organizations in serving the public.

SILVER: “The United States of Subsidies,” by Louise Story of The New York Times, received the silver award of $2,000. The project tabulated the $80 billion that local governments dole out to corporations each year in tax breaks and other business incentives – expenditures to recruit and keep businesses that may or may not produce results. Story methodically contacted revenue departments and agencies that administered incentives to compute the total cost to taxpayers that had never been compiled before.

“This is a fresh and comprehensive look at the high competition to lure companies, in which the cost exceeds the benefits,” said the judges, adding that its creation of a usable, comparable database is a significant milestone for this topic that for decades has failed to gain national traction.

BRONZE: “Inside Game: How Corporate Insiders Profit Ahead of the Public,” by Susan Pulliam, Rob Barry, Michael Siconolfi and Jean Eaglesham of The Wall Street Journal, received the $1,000 bronze award. More than six months' work went into creating a database to examine how more than 20,000 corporate executives traded their own companies’ stock over the course of eight years. It revealed that more than 1,000 executives had generated big profits or avoided big losses. The FBI and SEC launched investigations the day after the initial article.

“The stories outline the abuse of rules designed to keep corporate executives honest when they buy and sell their companies’ stock,” said the judges, pointing out that a number of large companies adopted more stringent insider-trading policies in the wake of the articles.

HONORABLE MENTION: “iTheft,” by Gerry Smith of The Huffington Post, traces the growing and dangerous trail of stolen iPhones, iPads and other connective devices to a global distribution network that nets an estimated $30 billion annually. Citing the articles, top-level law enforcement officials have pressed manufacturers to add a “kill” switch to their devices that would render them inoperable after they are stolen.

“The articles look into the growing crime wave of global trading in cell phones that make citizens vulnerable to mugging, and into the sluggish response to this reality from business,” the judges noted.

Sound research played a key role for the winners.

“This year’s award winners relentlessly worked to build ground-breaking databases to substantiate solid investigative business reporting and writing,” said Andrew Leckey, president of the Reynolds Center. “They uncovered facts that reveal financial abuse of the needy, taxpayers, shareholders and consumers at the hands of scammers, government and the privileged.”

The judges for this year’s awards were Amanda Bennett, editor-at-large for Bloomberg News; Paul Steiger, ProPublica’s founding editor-in-chief and current executive chairman; and Rob Reuteman, freelance writer, professor at Colorado State University and former president of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

The awards will be conferred Nov. 18 at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University in Phoenix.

GOLD WINNERS

Kris Hundley joined the Tampa Bay Times 17 years ago as a business reporter, covering the business of medicine and pension issues. In 2011, she joined the Times' investigative team.

Last year, Hundley reported on inequities in Florida's "Stand Your Ground" self-defense law. She is a graduate of Smith College.

Kendall Taggart joined The Center for Investigative Reporting in California in 2010. Before "America's Worst Charities," Taggart worked with a team of reporters on an investigation that exposed systemic failures in California’s oversight of public school construction and earthquake-safety laws – a project that received several national awards.

She is a Massachusetts native and graduate of Reed College. She has lived and worked in Chiang Mai, Thailand and Trujillo, Peru.

SILVER WINNER

Louise Story is a reporter on the Investigations Desk of The New York Times.

Previously, Story wrote about Wall Street and finance and was one of the lead reporters in chronicling the financial crisis of 2008. In that role, she contributed to a project that was a finalist for the 2010 Emmy Awards and one that was a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in Public Service. She has also been a finalist three times for the Gerald Loeb Award and she was named one of the Huffington Post’s Game Changers for 2010.

In 2011, she co-authored a series of stories on the lack of prosecutions related to the financial crisis, and in 2010, she examined the advantages bankers enjoy over other investors and customers in the series “House Advantage.” Prior to covering Wall Street, Story wrote about advertising and marketing for the Times.

BRONZE WINNERS

Susan Pulliam is an investigative reporter for The Wall Street Journal, covering the financial industry. Pulliam joined the Journal in 1990 as a reporter covering insurance, and later covered pensions and institutional investing. She began writing “Heard On The Street” columns and Wall Street articles in 1992.

In 2012, Pulliam and a group of fellow Journal reporters won several awards for a series of articles that examined new ways of insider trading in Washington and on Wall Street, including a George Polk Award for national reporting, a Society of American Business Editors and Writers award and a New York Press Club award for business reporting. The series was also a finalist for a 2012 Gerald Loeb Award.

Pulliam won a Newswomen’s Club of New York award in the Beat Reporting category for a story on the insider-trading investigation of the Galleon Group hedge fund, and she was a finalist for a 2011 Gerald Loeb Award for the same article.

Rob Barry is a journalist with The Wall Street Journal who specializes in computer-assisted reporting, which is the practice of wrestling large sets of data into compelling narratives.

Before joining the Journal in 2011, Barry had been a staff writer for The Miami Herald since 2006. He earned a bachelor's degree in English and mathematics from the University of Miami.

He has won recognition for his work, including a nomination as a Pulitzer Finalist in the Public Service category, as well as two Gerald Loeb Awards.

Barry was one of a team who won the 2009 Barlett & Steele Gold Award for a nine-month investigation at The Miami Herald called, "Borrowers Betrayed."  That series uncovered poor oversight by Florida mortgage regulators that permitted thousands of individuals with criminal records to conduct business in the state’s home-loan industry.

Mike Siconolfi is a senior editor heading a financial investigative-projects group at The Wall Street Journal.

In this role, he works closely with the Journal's Money & Investing team in New York and other senior editors and bureau chiefs in focusing on major investigative opportunities, especially those calling for financial expertise.

Siconolfi previously had been deputy editor of the Money & Investing section of the Journal. In that position, he helped to oversee all reporters writing for the section and also edited the Journal's securities-industry coverage, as well as handling page-one projects for the group.

He has won three Gerald Loeb Awards, two as a reporter (for the collapse of Kidder Peabody and for a series about investment banks’ practice of IPO “spinning”), and one for career achievement (the Lawrence Minard Editing Award). He has been part of reporting teams that have won numerous accolades. He has overseen stories that have won George Polk Awards – for insider trading and IPO manipulation – and has edited articles for a package that won a Pulitzer Prize for corporate scandals.

Jean Eaglesham writes about law enforcement by the Securities and Exchange Commission and other financial agencies, working from The Wall Street Journal's New York bureau.

Before joining the Journal in 2010, Eaglesham worked for the Financial Times for 14 years in a variety of reporting roles, including chief political correspondent and UK business editor.

Previous Barlett & Steele winners include the nation’s major news organizations as well as regional news outlets. Deadline is Aug. 1, 2014 for work produced in the year ending June 30, 2014.

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Professor examines 'path to citizenship' from unique perspective


October 1, 2013

One of the more controversial aspects of the often acrimonious debate over immigration reform is whether undocumented migrants should be offered a path to citizenship. Arizona State University faculty member Luis F.B. Plascencia has authored a book that offers a perspective from the not-too-distant past, based on the experiences of people who pursued citizenship through a 1986 law signed by Ronald Reagan.

“Disenchanting Citizenship: Mexican Migrants and the Boundaries of Belonging” explores an idea that many of us might not have considered – that Mexican immigrants to the United States who reach their goal of citizenship may not experience the full equality and incorporation that is thought to be inherent to U.S. citizenship. Plascencia’s book was published by Rutgers University Press. Luis Plascencia Download Full Image

“This is the first scholarly book to discuss an issue that has been largely overlooked by policymakers, immigration officials, policy analysts and academics: the possibility that migrants may be disenchanted with U.S. citizenship, which they worked so hard for many years to obtain,” said Plascencia, assistant professor of anthropology in ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, the core college on the West campus. “This, however, should not be interpreted to mean that they have a reduced appreciation or ‘love’ for the United States, the nation they feel privileged to be part of and that has opened up opportunities for themselves and their children.”

In the book, Plascencia notes two types of disenchantment. One is based on incomplete information new citizens were given by local organizations that aided them in the process of acquiring citizenship. The second is a more troubling form, he said.

“It has to do with the fact that citizenship is not only a legal category, it is also a social category, and one that operates alongside processes related to race and class. Some Mexican migrants assumed that after acquiring U.S. citizenship they would be ‘equal’ to Mexican Americans and European American citizens, but this did not materialize,” Plascencia said. “They continued to be thought of as ‘Mexicans,’ a label indicating that they were not thought of as belonging in the United States.”

The basis for “Disenchanting Citizenship” is Plascencia’s volunteer work teaching citizenship classes for two years in Austin, Texas, follow-up interviews with students who had taken the classes and with government officials, community-based organizations and others. In addition, Plascencia attended multiple naturalization ceremonies in El Paso, San Antonio and Phoenix, and volunteered to assist Permanent Residents in completing the N-400 naturalization form in Austin and Phoenix.

The participants in the study are unique among Mexican-descent Permanent Residents. Most participants are individuals who were formerly undocumented migrants, applied for and were granted legalization/amnesty under the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) signed by President Reagan, were then granted Temporary Resident status, and later applied for Permanent Resident status and granted a green card. After five years, Permanent Residents can petition of U.S. citizenship. Participants therefore have traversed multiple legal categories.

“The experiences of these individuals are extremely relevant today because current proposals for ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ base their support or opposition to a ‘path to citizenship’ – in other words, a legalization program – on the aftermath of IRCA,” Plascencia explained.

That current relevance became apparent when a study Plascencia coauthored, “The Making of Americans: Results of the Texas Naturalization Survey,” was cited in the document “Fixing Our Broken Immigration System,” released in August by the Obama administration.

“Disenchanting Citizenship” and Plascencia’s overall body of work also have caught the attention of scholars around the country who focus on immigration and citizenship issues.

“His work is very timely and important in bringing clarity to otherwise cluttered emotional debates that have little to do with the judicial, economic, institutional and structural realities of the region,” said Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez, Regents’ Professor and director of the School of Transborder Studies on ASU’s Tempe campus. “Luis is among the new cohort of scholars who embrace the actualities of the transborder region as they have historically developed.”

Plascencia says he hopes the book helps cultivate a deeper appreciation of the complex history of citizenship in the United States. “There are undoubtedly great tensions associated with this issue and its history, but also a great generosity in the granting of citizenship to Permanent Residents,” he said. “Between 1907 and 2012, more than 26 million migrants were granted citizenship.”

Plascencia brings a variety of experiences to his scholarly work on issues of migration, citizenship and the Mexico-United States borderlands. He co-directed a national research project that estimated the size and distribution of the U.S. migrant agricultural workforce for the 50 states and Puerto Rico. Congress directed the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) to use the estimates generated from this project as the core component, with adjustments based on Bureau of the Census data, to fund migrant legal services. LSC allocates hundreds of millions of dollars annually to address the nation’s “justice gap” and ensure a modicum of legal assistance to low-income U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents.

Among Plascencia’s other research interests are popular culture issues, such as low-riding in the Southwest and the death of the singer Selena, as well as the experiences of Latinos in the U.S. military.

“I am particularly interested in how non-citizens in the military readily adopt the responsibilities of U.S. citizens; defending the nation is presumably the responsibility of loyal, patriotic citizens,” he says. “Undocumented migrants who serve in the military can be granted citizenship. So while these individuals are often demonized by state and local officials for their negative impact on society, the U.S. simultaneously grants citizenship to the ‘American soldier’ who willingly kills and dies for the nation, those brave men and women who protect the nation and the freedoms and liberties we civilians enjoy.”

Plascencia teaches New College courses including Principles of Social Anthropology; Mexico-U.S. Borderlands; Citizenship, Nationalism, & Identity; and Introduction to Social/Cultural Anthropology. He says the college’s interdisciplinary focus is an ideal match for his interests.

“Although trained as a social anthropologist, almost all of my research has been interdisciplinary,” he says. “My research draws on legal scholarship, political science, public policy, medical research and sociology.”

Plascencia’s scholarly activity earns high marks from Jeffrey Kassing, director of New College’s School of Social and Behavioral Sciences. “His work provides an excellent example of research that proves meaningful for academics and policymakers while remaining relevant to the local communities ASU serves and supports,” Kassing says.

In addition to his New College faculty appointment, Plascencia is Southwest Borderlands Initiative Scholar and an affiliated faculty member in the School of Transborder Studies in Tempe and the School of Public Affairs at the Downtown Phoenix campus. He is serving in a two-year term as president of the Association of Latina & Latino Anthropologists (ALLA), a section of the American Anthropological Association (AAA). Plascencia also is a member of the Committee on Minorities in Anthropology (CMIA), a standing committee of the AAA. The CMIA grants a $10,000 dissertation fellowship to a minority graduate student in anthropology.