Two won in 2016 for their joint efforts in explanatory reporting: T. Christian Miller of ProPublica and Ken Armstrong of The Marshall Project. According to the Pulitzer website, they took home the award for “a startling examination and exposé of law enforcement’s enduring failures to investigate reports of rape properly and to comprehend the traumatic effects on its victims.”
They co-wrote four different articles all based on investigating and explaining the issues of law enforcement and the way they deal with rape cases. All four were written in December 2016. They were both investigating the same story when they became aware of each other. Instead of using their situation to spark a rivalry they chose to work together in order to give light to the negligence that was happening.
“An Unbelievable Story of Rape” was the main article that secured them the award. The men explain why it is so hard for women to come forward with rape accusations. One example focused on was a woman in Washington who came to the police reporting that she had been raped at knifepoint. The police did not take her accusation seriously and even convinced her to plead guilty for filing a false report. Her life was altered and the rapist went free. Two female detectives in Colorado caught the rapist.
Miller and Armstrong narrated both the police procedures handling the case. One, in Washington where it was grossly mishandled, and the other in Colorado that led to the conclusion of the investigation. In Colorado, the detectives work together even across departments, but the Washington investigation proves that not all departments do. They bring up a FBI database that can investigate rape cases even without the presence of DNA, in 2013 .3% of the cases reported to police were entered into the program. This speaks to a larger national problem of how our society deals with this form of crime.
Their story not only was an exceptional discussion on the taboo of rape reports but also is now being used in departmental trainings as a tool on how to and not to conduct such investigations. In addition to department recognition, major female organizations have been encouraging their members to read it as well. Not only did these men break open a nationwide scandal but are an active resource now for educating individuals on the topic.
As a college aged woman, I am especially proud of this accomplishment. I am in one of the largest demographic brackets who are effected by police ignorance when it becomes to rape cases. This is a big problem all over the country and these journalists are not only explaining the problem, but allowing others to figure out how to take steps to fix it.