Two Tribune reporters have won the 2008 George Polk Award for Justice Reporting for their five-part series that exposed how the Maricopa County Sheriff’s police protection suffered as the office focused on anti-illegal immigration enforcement.
Tribune reporter Ryan Gabrielson and former Tribune reporter Paul Giblin, now a senior political editor and co-founder of The Arizona Guardian, were honored for their investigation into Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s campaign against illegal immigrants.
The series, “Reasonable Doubt,” exposed slow emergency response times and lax criminal enforcement as the sheriff dedicated more of his agency’s time and resources to seeking out and arresting illegal immigrants.
“Expose: America’s Investigative Reports” filmed an episode about the Tribune series to be aired on PBS sometime this year.
“This project was the result of an exhaustive review of public records and numerous interviews with people inside the sheriff’s office,” said Tribune editor Chris Coppola. “The award only affirms what we already knew about the tremendous effort by Ryan, Paul and all of the dedicated journalists who helped bring this project to Tribune readers. To have it recognized nationally is very gratifying.”
Fourteen Polk Awards were announced this week by Long Island University. The prestigious awards memorialize CBS reporter George Polk, who was killed while covering the civil war in Greece.
“Courage, diligence and skill were hallmarks of George Polk’s career, and we are proud to honor the journalists who carry on that tradition today,” David J. Steinberg, president of Long Island University, said in a press release. “In these difficult times, when many newspapers and magazines face financial peril, we treasure these George Polk Award winners and the news media’s essential support for investigative reporting.”
Recipients of the Polk Awards, which also included journalists for the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Seattle Times, and CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” among others, were chosen by a jury of Long Island University faculty and alumni and a panel of teachers, editors and reporters, including some former Polk Award recipients, according to the release.
Patti Epler, former Metro Editor at the Tribune, oversaw and edited the “Reasonable Doubt” project.
“It’s a really good example of how you don’t need to be a big metropolitan newspaper to do good journalism,” said Epler, now a senior political editor and co-founder of The Arizona Guardian. “You just need the commitment from the reporters, the higher-ups, the designers and everyone to pull together to do the same kind of meaningful and important public policy journalism that a newspaper like the New York Times or the Washington Post does every day.”
Epler added, “I was really thrilled to be a part of that project and to work closely with Ryan and Paul on it because immigration is such an important issue for our area.”
Gabrielson and Giblin both attended the journalism school at the University of Arizona in Tucson.