A Washington Post newsroom team has won one of the richest prizes in journalism, the 2006 Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting, for a series of articles exposing illegal activities and corruption connected to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, it was announced yesterday.
It was the second year in succession that The Post has won the $35,000 prize, which is presented by the School of Journalism of the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication. The prize recognizes the year's outstanding journalistic work that led to direct results.
This year's judges cited the work of staff writers Susan Schmidt, James V. Grimaldi and R. Jeffrey Smith, who, beginning in 2004 and continuing through last year, wrote dozens of articles revealing corruption and illegality.
In a statement, the prize organization said the newspaper's work ultimately led to government investigations that resulted in criminal indictments against Abramoff, leading to his guilty plea Jan. 3.
The statement said The Post's investigation led House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) to resign his congressional leadership position in 2005. Several other members of Congress and congressional aides are under investigation, it said.
"The fall of Abramoff exposed what may be the biggest case of congressional corruption in decades," the judges wrote. "If not for The Post's dogged investigative reporting, the web of corrupt relationships, secret deals and cynical manipulation of the political system might still be thriving."
"Since first uncovering Abramoff's dealings in 2004, The Post's reporters have stayed ahead of federal investigators in revealing the scope and nature of this corruption. The Post refused to bend to either political power or to the complexity of its reporting challenge. The result is not only the exposure of individual misdeeds, but of a system in need of reform. This is watchdog journalism at its finest," they added.
The Post won last year for its investigation of lead contamination in the District's water supply.