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Journalists Honored as 2024 Goldsmith Award Winners at Harvard Kennedy School Event

David Hilzenrath (left) and Jodie Fleischer (center) accept an award at the 2024 Goldsmith Awards in the JFK Jr. Forum on Wednesday.
David Hilzenrath (left) and Jodie Fleischer (center) accept an award at the 2024 Goldsmith Awards in the JFK Jr. Forum on Wednesday. By Emily T. Schwartz
By Meghna Mitra, Valerie Xu, and Mandy Zhang, Contributing Writers

Six journalists and their teams were honored as winners of the 2024 Goldsmith Awards at a Wednesday ceremony hosted by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center.

New York Times reporter Hannah Dreier won the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, University of Cambridge professor Sander van der Linden and Hertie School professor Anita R. Gohdes each won a Goldsmith Book Prize, and National Public Radio reporter Nina Totenberg won the Goldsmith Career Award.

Since 1991, the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy has celebrated journalists whose work have impacted U.S. policy and government.

Jodie Fleischer, David S. Hilzenrath ’87, a former Crimson editor, and the staffs of KFF Health News and Cox Media Group also won the inaugural Goldsmith Special Citation for Reporting on Government.

A team of nine judges chose six finalists for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting from a pool of 170 nominations. The winner was announced for the first time during the Wednesday evening event.

Chaired by Nancy Gibbs, director of the Shorenstein Center, the panel of judges included Betsy Fischer Martin, executive director of the Women and Politics Institute at American University, and Corey Johnson, a 2022 finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.

Dreier, who has previously won a Pulitzer Prize for her work, was named the 2024 winner of the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting for her 20-month investigation on the recent nationwide surge in and exploitation of child labor. The prize comes with a $25,000 reward.

The other five finalists, who will each receive $10,000, produced investigations that ranged from uncovering violence inflicted by state sheriffs to revealing contaminants in medical breathing machines.

In an interview with The Crimson, Gibbs, who chaired the judging panel, praised the journalists for their work.

“It is just amazing how determined they were, the time that it took, the sheer amount of data they went through,” she said.

Gibbs also highlighted the importance of the diversity of publications honored by the Goldsmith Awards.

“We aren’t just celebrating the big successful newsrooms that everyone knows about,” she said. “We’re celebrating publishers all over the country that are doing incredible work.”

Totenberg, who has served as an NPR correspondent for more than 40 years, was named the 2024 winner of the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism.

During the Wednesday event, Ari M. Shapiro, one of Totenberg’s colleagues at NPR, lauded her impressive work.

“Nina did not become formidable by being famous,” Shapiro said. “Nina became famous by being formidable.”

In a fireside chat with Gibbs during the award ceremony, Totenberg talked about how journalism has changed since the start of her career — pointing to the impact of factors from digitization to former President Donald Trump on public trust in the media.

Totenberg further compared how journalism has historically influenced public service, including its place today, in which investigative journalism has sometimes been labeled fake news.

“You can’t have a thriving democracy or a thriving country if you don’t have not just a free press, but an active press — one that is paid attention to,” Totenberg said.

“For many politicians today,” she said, “the word ‘shame’ does not register.”

During the event, all six finalists for the Goldsmith Investigative Reporting Prize were also honored with montages of their work.

Jesse Coburn — a reporter from Streetsblog and one of this year’s investigative reporting finalists — said that he “had a mini celebration on the phone” with his editor after finding out his place as a finalist.

Bob Herman, a reporter at STAT and another finalist, pointed to the importance of the awards in promoting good journalism.

“The prize is a tremendous honor, but if anything, it’s just more motivation,” Herman said.

“Journalism is truly the bedrock of a good functioning society,” he said.

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