Alumni and professor win Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding Investigative Reporting

Journalism alumni Johnathan Hettinger (BS ’15) and Pam Dempsey (MS ’09), and Professor Brant Houston, Knight Chair of Investigative Reporting in the Department of Journalism, were part of a Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting team that won first place in a national environmental journalism contest for investigative reporting by a small newsroom.

First place for the Society of Environmental Journalists 2021 Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding Investigative Reporting, Small, was awarded to "Dicamba on Trial" by Hettinger (reporter), Dempsey, Sky Chadde, and Houston (editors). See story links:

  1. "Reporter's Notebook: Five Key Takeaways From Trial of Peach Farmer's Lawsuit vs. Bayer, BASF"
  2. "Lawsuit: In Dicamba Decision, EPA Ignored Own Prerequisite, Agency Scientists' Recommendations"
  3. "'We've Got It Everywhere': Dicamba Damaging Trees Across Midwest and South"
  4. "EPA Documents Show Dicamba Damage Worse Than Previously Thought"
  5. "'Buy It Or Else': Inside Monsanto and BASF's Moves To Force Dicamba on Farmers"

"This reporting project from the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting resulted in exemplary investigative journalism," the judges said. "The clear-eyed writing provided readers with a masterclass in how to build a story with a foundation of sound research and documentation. The series should not be dismissed as regional reporting. The judges felt this story had relevance to environmental policy and agri-business on a global scale."

The team also received honorable mention in the top category, the Nina Mason Pulliam Award for Outstanding Environmental Reporting, which ProPublic won. The judges commented: "Dogged accountability journalism isn’t solely the province of large newsrooms. The nonprofit Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting deserves mention for digging deep to tell how many farms and natural areas had been poisoned by widespread spraying of the herbicide dicamba. Mining documents from lawsuits and state and federal agencies, reporter Johnathan Hettinger laid out the culpability of the pesticide’s manufacturers and of federal regulators."

Johnathan Hettinger Pam Dempsey Houston  
Pictured are Johnathan Hettinger, Pam Dempsey, and Brant Houston.