White House Correspondents’ Association Honors ICN’s #ExxonKnew With Poe Award

The Edgar A. Poe Award annually honors journalistic work of national or regional significance.

President Obama speaks at the White House Correspondent's Association annual dinner, where the journalism awards are presented. Credit: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

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InsideClimate News’ Exxon: The Road Not Taken series was awarded the Edgar A. Poe Award by the White House Correspondents Association, which annually honors “excellence in news coverage of subjects and events of significant national or regional importance, written with fairness and objectivity.”

The WCHA, founded in 1914 and dedicated to covering the president, recognized the ICN reporting team of Neela Banerjee, John H. Cushman Jr., David Hasemyer and Lisa Song for their eight-month investigation about Exxon’s cutting-edge climate research.

The award was shared by Terrence McCoy of the Washington Post, who explored the issue of lead poisoning among poor black children in Baltimore after Freddie Gray died in custody in a high-profile case of alleged police abuse. Gray, like many similar poisoning victims, had been exploited for his cash settlement.

The judges lauded ICN’s work for its impact on another nationally important topic: “As early as 1977, scientists at energy and oil giant Exxon Corporation told top executives that fossil fuel emissions were warming the planet. Over time, however, Exxon became a leader in denying climate change…Reporters Neela Banerjee, John Cushman, Jr., David Hasemyer and Lisa Song of InsideClimate News, used documents, interviews and the public record from four decades to reveal a deeply disturbing trail from climate change discovery to denial. The story prompted the New York Attorney General to issue a subpoena to force Exxon to disclose records in order to determine if it committed fraud under state law.”

The award is named for Edgar Allen Poe, a longtime New Orleans Times-Picayune journalist who served as president of the White House Correspondents Association. He died in 1998 at age 92. It will be presented at the WHCA annual dinner this Saturday night in Washington and will be broadcast live via C-Span.org.

The series last week was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

The work had already won several other prestigious journalism awards: The National Press Foundation’s Stokes Award for energy reporting; finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Journalism; the Izzy Award for Excellence by Independent Media; the Scripps Howard Award for Environmental Reporting; and a Society for American Business Editors and Writers award for best investigation by a digital news site. The infographics from that series also won a Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.