Monday, July 7, 2014

Former Gazette writers claim IRE award

Posted By on Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 10:00 AM

It's heartening to know that investigative journalism is alive and well across the country, as demonstrated by a stellar line up of winners at the Investigative Reporters and Editors annual conference in San Francisco.

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Among those winners were a couple of familiar names — Raquel Rutledge and John Diedrich, two former Gazette reporters who now work at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Rutledge, who covered City Hall here and won the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting in 2010, and John, who covered the military here, left Colorado Springs for the Journal Sentinel in 2004.

They won the IRE "print — medium" category with their investigation of the ATF. Here's what the judges said about the series, called "Backfire":
In an exhaustive and shocking yearlong-series, Journal Sentinel reporters John Diedrich and Raquel Rutledge detail reckless and illegal operations carried out by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The investigation began with a tip about federal agents damaging a rental property and expanded into a nationwide scandal with relentless digging. The reporters discovered the ATF taking advantage of people with intellectual disabilities by employing them in undercover operations, giving firearms to unsupervised felons and buying stolen property that encouraged burglaries. The stories prompted the U.S. Justice Department’s inspector general to open an inquiry into the newspaper’s findings. 
Read the series here.

Contacted by e-mail, Raquel said, " It was great working with John. We've got a fantastic support network in this newsroom and couldn't ask for anything better."

Indeed, the Journal Sentinel won more than one IRE award this year.

One of the finalists in the category won by Rutledge and Diedrich was "Other Than Honorable," a series published in 2013 by the Gazette, for which Dave Philipps won the national reporting Pulitzer this year. Philipps has since accepted a reporting job with The New York Times.

In a news release, my former colleague at The Tulsa Tribune, IRE Contest Chair Ziva Branstetter, now with the Tulsa World, said the winners were chosen from more than 500 entries that demonstrated "powerful investigative journalism is being published, aired and posted at all levels and across media platforms.

"The judges were impressed with the quality of these entries, which included moving stories about powerless people, fearless probes of corrupt public officials and exposés of powerful institutions run amok," she said in the release. "They display in vivid detail that investigative journalism is alive and well across the nation and globe."

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