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Investigative report shows how utilities manipulated local media to keep rates high and control editorial content
An investigative news story that revealed how power utilities in Alabama and Florida manipulated local news media won the first A-Mark Prize for Reporting on Misinformation and Disinformation.
The $4,000 prize went to Miranda Green and Mario Ariza of Floodlight and David Folkenflik of National Public Radio for, “In the Southeast, power company money flows to news sites that attack their critics.”
“This team of reporters painstakingly traced the financial connections, through documents and interviews, between a consulting firm and six news sites in Alabama and Florida to show how money influenced coverage to the detriment of Alabama electric utility customers,” wrote the judges, citing the audio report as, “a prime example of what makes the A-Mark Prize so important.”
The prize, established this year by the Santa Monica, Calif.,-based A-Mark Foundation, was announced at the Los Angeles Press Club’s Southern California Journalism Awards annual gala on June 25, 2023, at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, Calif.
Second prize went to James Rainey of the Los Angeles Times for, “His website skewers Stockton politicians and agencies. Then one gave him a cushy job.” Sam Kestenbaum received third prize for his Rolling Stone article, “‘I Think All the Christians Get Slaughtered’: Inside the MAGA Road Show Barnstorming America.” Second and third place winners received $500 each.
To produce the winning entry, NPR joined with Floodlight, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates the powerful interests stalling climate action.
The judges wrote that their work provided, “A bright shining light on misinformation leading to apparent corruption by those who are supposed to serve the public interest.”
Founded in 1997, the A-Mark Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to provide unbiased, nonpartisan research and information on critical issues.
“The winning entries demonstrate the power of good journalism to expose bad media,” said Rob Eshman, CEO of A-Mark Foundation. “Our goal is to encourage ongoing investigation into those who use news platforms and social media to spread lies, twist facts and manipulate truth.”