Four projects by Pulitzer Center grantees were honored with a 2017 Overseas Press Club (OPC) Award, totalling nearly a fifth of the awards given. Topics included war crimes in Syria, international corruption, wildlife conservation in Africa, and the exploitation of the refugee crisis for criminal and economic gain.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and 100 other media partners received The Malcolm Forbes Award for best international business reporting in newspapers, news services or digital for their work on "The Panama Papers: Politicians, Criminals and the Rogue Industry That Hides Their Cash." "The Panama Papers" exposed wide-reaching international corruption through the leaks of thousands of documents from Panama-based offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca.
"More than 400 journalists took part in this remarkably complex project. The sheer scale of it, lasting over a period of years, surpassed the best efforts of any single news organization," wrote OPC judges.
Elliot D. Woods, Virginia Quarterly Review, and the Pulitzer Center were awarded The Whitman Bassow Award for best reporting in any medium on international environmental issues for "The Fight for Chinko." Woods' story focused on the ungoverned wilds of the Central African Republic, where a group of young conservationists uses every resource it can muster—from technology to armed confrontation—to protect a vital habitat.
"In a raw and unique tale from the Central African Republic," wrote the OPC judges. "The story cast a light on the grueling, back-breaking effort needed to protect wildlife in a country with no resources, rampant corruption and brutal horrors."
Malia Politzer, Emily Kassie, and the Huffington Post received the award for Best Digital Reporting on International Affairs for their expansive digital project, "The 21st Century Gold Rush." Politzer and Kassie exposed the vast network of businesses, criminals, bureaucrats, and "low-flying vultures" who seek to exploit the tragedy of the global migration crisis for financial gain.
Said the OPC judges: "The reporters charted fresh territory in a well-traversed international issue by digging deeply into those who have profited from the refugee crisis."
Ben Taub, The New Yorker, and the Pulitzer Center were honored with the Best Investigative Reporting award for "War Crimes in Syria." Taub's report exposed the Assad government's relentless campaign to imprison, torture and murder thousands of suspected opposition members, as well as followed the brave team that risked life and limb to smuggle evidence of war crimes out of Syria.
"Taub laid bare the horrific campaign to stamp out opposition sanctioned by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government. He collected evidence of at least 11,000 victims," wrote the OPC judges. "The result was a piece that deployed the best traditions of investigative journalism to achieve a chilling and unforgettable narrative that truly holds power to account."
The Overseas Press Club of America is an international association of journalists based in New York City that works to encourage the highest standards in journalism, to educate the next generation of foreign correspondents and to promote international press freedom and the well-being of colleagues in the field. The full list of 2017 winners is available on the OPC website.