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Editor's Notes

From the archives 2021

Spotlight PA named a finalist for national investigative journalism award

by Christopher Baxter |

Tom Gralish / Philadelphia Inquirer

HARRISBURG — The Online News Association has recognized two recent investigations by Spotlight PA — an independent, nonpartisan newsroom dedicated to covering the state government and urgent statewide issues — as finalists for a national award honoring innovation and excellence in online investigative journalism.

“At Risk, In the Dark,” an investigative series focused on emergency preparedness around the Mariner East pipeline system, and “The Hidden Tab,” an ongoing investigation into spending by Pennsylvania lawmakers, were both named finalists for the Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award.

In “At Risk, In the Dark,” investigative reporter Rebecca Moss painstakingly chronicled the history of the Mariner East system and preparedness should something go wrong. She found secrecy and a patchwork of emergency plans have left many communities in the dark about what to do in case of an accident. As part of that project, she and newsroom developer Daniel Simmons-Ritchie created an interactive explainer of the system and its history.

Other reporting from the series includes:

In “The Hidden Tab,” investigative reporter Angela Couloumbis — in partnership with a team at The Caucus, and with help from students at Temple University — examined how Pennsylvania taxpayers foot a huge bill each year to run the state’s full-time legislature but are blocked from many of the details of that spending. As a result of the reporting, the Senate has for the first time begun posting details of lawmaker spending from its chamber online.

Other reporting from the series includes:

Since launching in September 2019, Spotlight PA has become the largest statewide news organization in Pennsylvania committed to accountability and investigative journalism. As part of its uniquely innovative and collaborative model, Spotlight PA now provides all of its journalism free of charge to more than 75 community newsroom partners, ensuring all Pennsylvanians are informed and empowered to participate in our democracy and hold officials to account.

Our investigative reporting relies on the support of our readers, with every dollar donated going straight back into our 100% essential journalism. Join us in celebrating these awards and marking our second birthday by making a tax-deductible donation today at spotlightpa.org/donate.

The winners of the Online Journalism Awards will be announced during the first two weeks of October.

Christopher Baxter is the executive director and editor in chief of Spotlight PA.

WHILE YOU’RE HERE… If you learned something from this story, pay it forward and become a member of Spotlight PA so someone else can in the future at spotlightpa.org/donate. Spotlight PA is funded by foundations and readers like you who are committed to accountability journalism that gets results.

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