NPR’s Howard Berkes won the November Sidney Award for a seven-month investigation into Massey Energy, which owns the West Virginia Upper Big Branch mine where 29 miners died in April (a Dec. 13 Berkes piece on Massey here). One finding: NPR obtained court documents and state and federal records citing persistent and widespread safety violations. Berkes spearheaded a team of NPR journalists that included Susanne Reber, deputy managing editor of investigations; producer Robert Benincasa; and reporter Frank Langfitt. Berkes conducted a dozen on-air stories for NPR about Massey, and wrote or co-wrote another 15 pieces for the NPR website. Berkes, 56, has been NPR’s rural correspondent since 2003, based in Salt Lake City. The Sidney Award is given once a month to an outstanding piece of socially-conscious journalism by the Sidney Hillman Foundation. Berkes discusses the project on the foundation’s “Backstory” page. NPR has been bolstering its investigative news work over the past year (Current, Jan. 11, 2010).