Three journalists from Reveal have been named finalists for the Livingston Awards — a national honor bestowed on journalists under 35 — for their investigations into rehab work camps and domestic terrorism.
Reporters Stan Alcorn, Amy Julia Harris and Shoshana Walter were among finalists for the Livingston Awards in the national reporting category. The University of Michigan — which funds the awards along with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation — announced the finalists Tuesday, honoring work by professionals under the age of 35 in local, national and international reporting.
Alcorn was selected as a finalist for the radio story, Trial and Terror, which aired on Reveal, a co-production with PRX. The story, a joint investigation with the Investigative Fund, took a comprehensive look at domestic terrorism in the United States to find that most terrorists in the United States are motivated by right-wing ideologies like white supremacy, while FBI resources and harsh punishments focus overwhelmingly on terrorists acting in the name of Islam.
The story brought those findings to life through a pair of cases that show how a terrorist’s ideology affects his punishment. Mohamed Osman Mohamud was sentenced to 30 years in prison after being directed to detonate a fake bomb by undercover agents of the FBI. Cody Seth Crawford was sentenced to two years’ probation for firebombing Mohamud’s mosque in retaliation. The story built on a database created by a team at the Investigative Fund led by David Neiwert.
Harris and Walter were named finalists for All Work. No Pay. The investigation uncovered a system of indentured servitude posing as drug rehabilitation, and has received several other commendations. It was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and won the Sigma Delta Chi award for investigative reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists.
Their investigation found that judges have steering drug defendants into rehabs that are little more than lucrative work camps for private industry. The beneficiaries included politicians and Fortune 500 companies such as Coca-Cola and Walmart.
After Harris and Walter published their first story in October, government investigations were launched, companies stopped using the unpaid labor and four class-action status lawsuits alleging slavery and human trafficking were filed.
Walter won a Livingston Award in 2015 as well.
The Livingston Awards judge print, broadcast and online journalism against one another and are the largest all-media, general reporting prize in American journalism.
In a statement on the University of Michigan’s website, contest organizers said the awards finalists’ work “demonstrates the singular power of journalism to document and interpret the issues and events shaping our times. It is a privilege to recognize such a broad range of talented reporters, committed to bringing depth, nuance and truth to our understanding of the world.”
Winners in each category will be announced June 6 at a New York City luncheon. Find a list of the finalists here.