A Tampa Bay Times reporting team has won the 2021 Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism for revealing dangerous conditions at Florida’s lone lead smelter.
Reporters Corey G. Johnson, Rebecca Woolington and Eli Murray documented severe safety risks at Gopher Resource’s Tampa factory. The Times team also detailed how the lead smelter, which recycles old batteries, polluted the surrounding community.
“The work the reporters devoted to building a database from current and former workers’ health records, and the care and skill that went into the writing, plus the impact, place it in a category of true public service,” said judge Margie Mason, an Associated Press reporter who won the Bingham Prize in 2020.
Judge Robin McDowell, who teamed with Mason at the Associated Press on their award-winning “Fruits of Labor” project, called the Times’ work “mind-boggling.”
“Again and again, the reporters exposed ways in which the company — and regulators — failed workers, their children and the community at large, mostly people of color,” McDowell said. “The reporters were relentless in their pursuit of the truth.”
The Times completed “Poisoned” with support from PBS Frontline’s Local Journalism Initiative, which provided partial funding and consultation. The project has also won a George Polk Award, an Investigative Reporters and Editors medal and top honors for local accountability reporting from the News Leaders Association.
The coveted Bingham Prize, administered by the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University, comes with a $20,000 award to be split among the three reporters. The prize honors investigative reporting of national significance where the public interest is being ill-served.
Worth Bingham was a Louisville Courier-Journal investigative reporter who died at age 34. His family and friends created the annual prize in his memory in 1967.