The Center for Investigative Reporting Wins George Foster Peabody Award

Emeryville, Calif., April 2 – The Center for Investigative Reporting won its first George Foster Peabody Award today for its investigation into the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ soaring use of opiates. The September report used internal VA data to expose a 270 percent increase in the number of opiate prescriptions issued at VA hospitals since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The phenomenon contributed to a fatal overdose rate among VA patients that was nearly double the national average. 

The story premiered on “Reveal,” the first-of-its-kind investigative reporting program for public radio, and was produced by CIR and PRX. It was featured on more than 140 public radio stations across the country. A companion piece was broadcast on PBS NewsHour.

Less than two weeks after the story was broadcast, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs cited the coverage in calling a hearing “to examine VA’s skyrocketing prescription painkiller rate.” During the proceedings, which were held despite a government shutdown, VA officials promised to present a plan to Congress that would lower the number of opiate prescriptions. At a follow-up hearing four months later, VA officials told Congress the number of veterans being prescribed narcotic painkillers had fallen by 20,000 since October and that the agency was in the process of expanding alternative therapies nationwide.

“The Peabody Award honors powerful journalism that makes a difference, and CIR is proud that our work has survived a rigorous judging process and received this validation of quality and credibility,” said Robert J. Rosenthal, CIR’s executive director. “It is especially rewarding that this investigation was broadcast on the premiere pilot of ‘Reveal.’ At CIR, we all are thankful to be part of a team that produces these kinds of stories, not only about veterans, but also on a wide range of subjects. Congratulations to our journalists and all the others honored today.”

The project was reported by Aaron Glantz with contributions from senior data reporter Agustin Armendariz, news applications developers Aaron Williams and Michael Corey, radio producer Michael Montgomery, video producer Adithya Sambamurthy, distribution and engagement manager Cole Goins, senior producer Mia Zuckerkandel and senior editor Amy Pyle. Susanne Reber and Ben Adair are the executive producers for “Reveal.”

The George Foster Peabody Awards recognize exemplary work in broadcasting, cable television and online productions. For the first time, some of the winners were announced during a national television broadcast, on “CBS This Morning.”

ABOUT THE CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

Investigative reporting is an essential pillar of a democratic society. For more than three decades, The Center for Investigative Reporting has relentlessly pursued and revealed injustices that otherwise would remain hidden from the public. Today, we’re upholding this legacy and looking forward, working at the forefront of journalistic innovation to tell the stories that make a difference and reach diverse audiences of all ages, across the aisle and worldwide. CIR stories appear in hundreds of news outlets, including NPR News, PBS FRONTLINE, PBS NewsHour, CNN, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Sacramento Bee, The Daily Beast and American Public Media’s Marketplace. CIR stories have received numerous journalism awards, including the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton, George Polk Award, Emmy Award, Investigative Reporters and Editors Award and the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. Its reports have sparked state and federal hearings and legislation, public-interest lawsuits and changes in corporate policies. For more information, visit cironline.org.

 

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