30/10/13 at 7:51 pm
On Tuesday, Colombia’s most prestigious journalism prize, the Premio Simon Bolivar, gave Nadja Drost (Stabile ’08) the award for best radio documentary, a 15-minute piece that focuses on a little-known Colombian town.
Here’s how Radio Ambulante, a Spanish-language Internet radio program, introduced Nadja Drost’s prizewinning radio documentary entitled, “N.N. (No Names)”:
“Colombia’s rivers have long been a dumping ground for bodies. In one town, people pull them from the water and give them a proper burial. But the story doesn’t end there. Nadja Drost traveled to Puerto Berrio to investigate the town’s strange relationship to the nameless dead.”
Based in San Francisco, Radio Ambulante is a startup that produces a biweekly radio podcast featuring deeply reported, documentary-style reports from Latin America and the United States. It was funded by a Kickstarter campaign that raised $46,000 in early 2012. Since then, it has developed partnerships with BBC Mundo and PRI’s The World and has expanded into producing episodes in English. One of its founders, and the editor of N.N., is Columbia j-school alumna Annie Correal (’07).
Drost is a freelance journalist based in Bogota. She has reported on human rights abuses there, and in 2012, received an Alicia Patterson fellowship work on an investigation on the dark underside of the booming gold mining industry in Colombia.
Drost is a filmmaker, journalist, and multimedia reporter. Her independently produced documentary, Between Midnight and the Rooster’s Crow, probed a Canadian oil company’s controversial operations in the Amazon. As a freelance foreign correspondent, she has contributed to Time, The Globe and Mail, and Global Post. Her work has also been aired by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Radio Netherlands.Full Story
Reservists and National Guard members returning from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan are finding that the jobs they hoped would waiting for them upon their homecoming are no longer there.
Christopher Harress began looking into this issue while enrolled in the Stabile program last year. He found that since 9/11, more than 660,000 National Guard members and reservists have been deployed to fight in the country’s war on terror.
But, as he wrote in a story published last month by the International Business Times:
When they came home, they expected to pick up life where they had left off. A law called the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act, or USERRA, was supposed to help ensure that happened.
The law is intended to protect members of the Reserve and National Guard from employment discrimination — primarily, to ensure they keep the jobs they held before they were deployed. Employers are supposed to make concessions to ensure this happens, and in many cases the burden is heavy. At any moment, a member of the Reserve or Guard can be deployed for as long as two years.Full Story
This week, Wired Magazine featured the astonishing story of David Anthony Whittaker, a convicted con man who pulled off a federal sting that got Google to pay the Department of Justice a $500-million fine. The story was written by Jake Pearson, from the Stabile class of 2009, who began following the global trail of online pharmacies as part of a project for the Stabile investigative seminar.
Pearson kept abreast with the topic even after graduation and remained in touch government investigators looking into how these pharmacies were freely selling counterfeit, substandard or restricted drugs. Pearson’s class produced a website, Behind Online Pharma, and published an article in the Huffington Post that described how Google was making millions from online ads that encouraged readers to buy restricted drugs through online drugstores that didn’t demand prescriptions as required by law.Full Story
The first e-book from a project supported by the Stabile Center was released this week. Making the Weight: Boxing’s Lethal Secret by Barry J. Whyte (Stabile ’10) examines the 24-hour weigh-in, a controversial system that is used widely in professional boxing. It allows boxers to “boil down” for the weigh-in the day before the fight then pile the weight back on in the time left before stepping into the ring.
Since its introduction in the late 1990s, the practice has encouraged boxers to engage in extreme dehydration to make weight for fights. Such dehydration weakens boxers, leaving them open to more punches, to heat-stroke, heart-failure, increased risk of long-term brain damage, and possibly even death. Dehydration has caused at least one death in the ring in the last 10 years.
Whyte began researching the topic for his master’s project while enrolled in the Stabile Center in the 2009-2010 school year. With support from the Stabile Center, he continued working on the story after graduation and sold it to BackPage Press, a UK publishing house that specializes in sports titles.Full Story
Every year since 1979, the Investigative Reporters and Editors has been giving out the annual IRE Award to recognize outstanding investigative work. This year, two Stabile alumni received the award and three others were finalists.
Vytenis Didziulis, Stabile ’09, was part of a team from Univision’s “Here and Now” program that won the award for investigative reporting in large broadcast markets for its investigation of the “Fast and Furious” sting operations conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The team obtained hundreds of documents using Mexican public laws and cross-referenced these with US government documents. The data led to previously unknown crimes committed with weapons sold through the sting operations, including the shooting of 14 teenagers at a party.Full Story
Antoinette D. Stabile, a journalist and philanthropist who endowed the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism, died in Naples, Florida on March 10. In a letter announcing her death, Columbia Journalism School dean Nicholas Lemann described Stabile as “a wonderful journalist and one of the most significant donors to the Journalism School in its 100-year history.”
“Toni was more than just generous,” said Lemann. She was a remarkably effective philanthropist, whose two major gifts have created institutions so essential to the Journalism School that it’s impossible to imagine life here without them. She was lively, engaged, and active right up to the end. She never stopped reminding us of the importance of investigative journalism.”