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National awards for Tribune's "Playing With Fire" series

NewspapersChicago TribuneMichael HawthorneJohn F. Kennedy

If you read the Chicago Tribune's "Playing With Fire" series about the deceptive campaign by the chemical and tobacco industries to introduce toxic flame retardants into our homes -- and ultimately into our bodies -- you won't be surprised that it won some big awards.

If you were one of the many people to write in expressing surprise, dismay and good wishes, thanks, and join us in congratulating Patricia Callahan, Sam Roe and Michael Hawthorne for winning the prestigious Goldsmith Prize for Investigative reporting.

The prize was awarded Tuesday night by the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, part of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

You can find links to all the Tribune's work on the flame retardant series here.

The Tribune's Associate Managing Editor for Investigations and Consumer Watch, George Papajohn, wrote last month on Trib Nation about one recent impact of that reporting: California, whose rules governing flame retardants had been a model for the nation, chose to scrap them after the Tribune's reporting on their effects.

The risks posed by these chemicals had come despite evidence that they don't prevent fires as promised. Investigative reporting by Callahan, Roe and Hawthorne prompted a closer look by regulators at flame retardants and reforms that could limit their presence in furniture across the country.

“The judges this year were especially struck by the initiative shown in recognizing a very important policy issue embedded in something as familiar and unthreatening as a sofa,” said Alex S. Jones, Director of the Shorenstein Center. “It goes to prove the importance of not just looking, but seeing and acting.”

“Playing with Fire” also has won two other national honors -- the Nieman Foundation’s 2012 Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Newspapers and the 2012 investigative prize in the major newspaper category by the Society of American Business Writers and Editors (SABEW).

You can find more on the citations and runners-up at the Shorenstein Center web site, the Nieman site, and at SABEW.

The story went up on chicagotribune.com Tuesday night.

Chicago Tribune Editor Gerould Kern sent a memo out to staff Wednesday morning.

“'Playing with Fire'” exemplifies the very core of our mission as a news organization -- to stand up for the welfare of the community and hold our leaders and institutions accountable. I can think of no better example than this one," Kern wrote. "I am very proud of the recognition our colleagues have received and very proud to be part of the Chicago Tribune."

-- Trib Nation

 

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