BuzzFeed News gets its first Pulitzer citation

As is usually the case, legacy news organizations cleaned up at The Pulitzer Prizes this year — the overwhelming majority of prizes and finalists were from newspapers and wire services.

One bright spot for digital media was BuzzFeed News, which on Monday earned its first finalist nod from The Pulitzer Prizes.

Chris Hamby, an investigative reporter at BuzzFeed news, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in international reporting.

In its citation, The Pulitzer Prizes gave plaudits to Hamby for shedding light on a little-known arbitration process used by major international companies.

For an exposé of a dispute-settlement process used by multinational corporations to undermine domestic regulations and gut environmental laws at the expense of poorer nations.

Mark Schoofs, BuzzFeed News' investigative editor, praised the globe-trotting nature of Hamby's reporting in a statement to Poynter.

"Chris travelled to three continents, interviewed more than 200 people, and navigated unprecedented legal complexity to uncover a story of vast global import," Schoofs said. "We're honored to see it recognized today, and we're so grateful to BuzzFeed for supporting investigative journalism on this scale."

Related Training: Introduction to Investigative Reporting

This isn't Hamby's first Pulitzer citation. In 2014, when he was a reporter at the Center for Public Integrity, he won the Pulitzer Prize in investigative reporting. His stories exposed how lawyers and doctors "rigged a system to deny benefits to coal miners stricken with black lung disease."

Hamby lost this year to The New York Times, which won the international reporting Pulitzer for "its agenda-setting reporting on Vladimir Putin’s efforts to project Russia’s power abroad, revealing techniques that included assassination, online harassment and the planting of incriminating evidence on opponents."

BuzzFeed News has been beefing up its investigative reporting bona fides in recent years. In 2013, the company brought aboard Schoofs, himself a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, to run its I-team. Since then, BuzzFeed has added more than 20 investigative journalists to its newsrooms in the U.S. and the U.K. The entire newsroom now boasts six Pulitzer winners.

The history of digital-native outlets winning Pulitzer Prizes is fairly short. The Huffington Post became the first online-only news site to win a Pulitzer Prize in 2012 for its coverage of wounded veterans. Several other digital-first news organizations, including ProPublica, the Center for Public Integrity and Politico have also been winners in recent years.

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    Benjamin Mullin

    Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics.

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