Some of the country’s top investigative reporters found themselves in the middle of a mystery yesterday afternoon.
They had gathered in Cambridge this week to mark the tenth anniversary of the Goldsmith Awards, a set of high-profile prizes given to journalists by Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.
Yesterday, the group of finalists in the investigative reporting category was set to receive plaques honoring their work.
Instead, they got a scoop they hadn’t counted on.
When Shorenstein Center Director Alex S. Jones stood up to present the honors at a luncheon ceremony at the Charles Hotel, he told them the box that contained their awards had disappeared.
Jones was left to wonder what had become of the prestigious prizes—and to do some investigative work of his own.
Two nights ago, finalists for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting gathered to learn which one of the six entries would take home the $25,000 prize. A pair of Seattle Times reporters won the award for an expose on a flawed cancer study.
The rest of the finalists—who had written on topics including terrorism, defects in Florida’s voting system and ties between the chocolate industry and modern-day slavery—were supposed to have their moment yesterday.
At the luncheon attendees dined on goat cheese salad, pasta primavera with shrimp and raspberry pie. They heard legendary Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward speak about the state of journalism after Sept. 11, and a little after 2 p.m. it was time for the finalists to receive their plaques.
That was when Jones made his startling announcement.
“They have disappeared,” he said of the awards.
Though he promised the finalists they would receive their prizes eventually—“you’ll get them,” he said—he told them the box containing their awards had vanished in transit between the Shorenstein Center’s offices at the Kennedy School of Government and the Charles Hotel, a few blocks away.
“Is this a joke?” someone yelled from the audience.
“I’m afraid not,” Jones replied.
And to the crowd of investigative reporters, he added, “We need your help.”