InsideClimate News wins Pulitzer for coverage of 2010 oil spill

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The nonprofit InsideClimate News won this year’s National Reporting Pulitzer Prize for its investigative series The Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You’ve Never Heard Of.

Reporters Elizabeth McGowan, Lisa Song and David Hasemyer took on a seven-month investigation about a 2010 oil spill in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. The winning package consisted of a three-part narrative and follow-up articles delving deeper into the circumstances of the oil spill.

“It was an important story, and we told it well through the eyes of the people who experienced it and who are investigating it,” said David Sassoon, founder and publisher of ICN.

Sassoon started ICN six years ago as a blog with just two people. The organization has since grown to seven staffers based in Boston, New York, San Diego and Washington, D.C., and a varying number of freelancers.

Its yearly budget of $550,000 may see a boost after the award announcement. According to Sassoon, the Pulitzer “has been like a campaign for us.” Donations from visitors to the website are growing, adding to the grants ICN receives from the Energy Foundation, the Educational Foundation of America, the Grantham Foundation, the Marisla Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Within the next two to three years, Sassoon hopes to expand and create a newsroom of 20 to 25 journalists.

Reporters from InsideClimate News have shared stories with PRI’s The World, Take Two on KPCC in Los Angeles and Your Call on KALW in San Francisco, among other shows. Sassoon said that the organization is currently discussing a story collaboration with This American Life.

This article was first published in Current, May 13, 2013.

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