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University of Wisconsin–Madison

2024 Shadid Award Winners & Finalists


NBC News investigation of missing people buried in a pauper’s graveyard wins 2024 Anthony Shadid Award for Journalism Ethics 

A team of three NBC News reporters has won the 2024 Anthony Shadid Award for Journalism Ethics for their work exposing America’s failed death notification system

Jon Schuppe, Mike Hixenbaugh and Rich Schapiro showed how authorities in Hinds County, Mississippi, were unceremoniously burying the bodies of missing people without notifying the loved ones still searching for them. During their investigation, the NBC News team repeatedly came into possession of more information about the deceased than local authorities had shared with their families, requiring them to carefully navigate a range of ethical issues. 

The Center for Journalism Ethics will present the award on May 6 in a ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

The event will also feature a moderated conversation on journalism ethics with Anchor of “Inside Politics Sunday” and Chief Congressional Correspondent at CNN Manu Raju and Katie Harbath, chief global affairs officer at Duco Experts. 

Registration for the ceremony is now open. 

Named for UW–Madison alum and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Anthony Shadid, the award honors the difficult ethical decisions journalists make when telling high-impact stories. Shadid, who died in 2012 while on assignment covering Syria, was a member of the Center for Journalism Ethics advisory board and worked to encourage integrity in reporting. 

The Shadid Award judging committee lauded the extraordinary care the NBC News team demonstrated in carrying out their investigation. 

Kathryn McGarr, associate professor in the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication and chair of the committee, said this year’s winning entry was part of an exceptionally competitive pool of finalists.

“This story immediately stood out to the judges for the difficult ethical choices the reporters were making at every stage of their work as they navigated the tragedy of families whose missing loved ones had been buried without their knowledge,” McGarr said. “Schuppe, Hixenbaugh and Schapiro showed great empathy for their sources and responsibility to the dead whose stories would not otherwise have been told.”

“This reporting is an ideal example of journalists representing the powerless and uncovering hard truths,” said Kathleen Bartzen Culver, director of the Center for Journalism Ethics. “Through these families’ heartbreaking experiences, NBC News has shown us how far we have to go in respecting those in need of care in our communities.”

As CNN’s chief congressional correspondent, Raju covers Capitol Hill and campaign politics. He has won multiple journalism awards for his reporting on the major battles consuming Washington and for his campaign coverage. Conversation moderator Katie Harbath is the former director of public policy at Facebook and a global leader at the intersection of elections, democracy, civics and tech. Both speakers serve on the advisory board of the Center for Journalism Ethics.

Registration for the ceremony is now open. 

2024 Finalists

  • Kristen Gelineau, Associated Press. Investigative correspondent Kristen Gelineau’s coverage of the Rohingya people led her to this story about the trafficking of Rohingya girls to Malaysia where they are subjected to rape, imprisonment and other abuse. According to the nomination, Gelineau navigated a minefield of ethical dilemmas, including working to protect sources dealing with extreme levels of trauma and desperation and ensuring that her work did not re-traumatize vulnerable people.
  • Keri Blakinger, Connor Sheets, Brittny Mejia, LA Times. For more than six years, tourists have been dying after taking fentanyl- and methamphetamine-tainted counterfeit pills they purchased from Mexican pharmacies. These reporters purchased 114 narcotic medications sold over the counter at dozens of pharmacies in Mexico, discovering that 62 percent of the pills were fake. According to the nomination, this investigation required making difficult ethical decisions about what to report and how to best serve readers without endangering the safety of reporting subjects, the general public and the reporters themselves.
  • Hannah Dreier, New York Times. Reporter Hannah Dreier showed how thousands of migrant children who have come into the U.S. alone are ending up in punishing jobs in all 50 states. She uncovered government failures at every level and showed how labor violations were widespread across employers and industries. According to the nomination, Dreier weighed ethical issues, including not further harming these children, documenting their exploitation without dehumanizing them, connecting isolated children with help and treading carefully with confidentiality.
  • Melissa Sanchez, Maryam Jameel, ProPublica. Reporters Melissa Sanchez and Maryam Jameel investigated the treatment of immigrant dairy workers in Wisconsin. According to the nomination, the reporters had to persuade undocumented immigrant workers — nearly all of whom feared losing their jobs or being deported — to speak with reporters in such a way that they could write with authority yet without disclosing their identities and putting them in harm’s way. The team also found innovative ways to ensure that their story reached the dairy worker community.  

Recent winners of the award include the Associated Press team of Mystyslav Cherbov, Evgeniy Maloletka, Vasilisa Stepanenko and Lori Hinnant for their courageous report on Russia’s attack on Mariupol, Jessica Contrera of the Washington Post for her reporting on child sex trafficking, and Margie Mason and Robin McDowell of the Associated Press for exposing widespread labor abuses in the global palm oil industry.

ABOUT ANTHONY SHADID: The award is named for Anthony Shadid, a UW-Madison journalism alumnus and foreign reporter for the Washington Post, The New York Times and The Associated Press. Shadid won two Pulitzer Prizes for his courageous and informed journalism. He died in February 2012 while reporting in Syria.

Shadid had a special connection to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, its School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Center for Journalism Ethics. He sat on the Center’s advisory board and was a strong supporter of its aim to promote public interest journalism and to stimulate discussion about journalism ethics.

ABOUT THE CENTER: The mission of the Center for Journalism Ethics is to encourage the highest standards in journalism ethics worldwide. We foster vigorous debate about ethical practices in journalism and provide a resource for producers, consumers and students of journalism. We honor the best in ethical journalistic practice and will not hesitate to call attention to journalistic failings. The Center is housed in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.