South Florida

‘Perversion of Justice’ wins Hillman Foundation award for journalism for the common good

The story behind a Palm Beach sex offender’s remarkable deal

Palm Beach multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein is a free man, despite sexually abusing dozens of underage girls according to police and prosecutors. His victims have never had a voice, until now.
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Palm Beach multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein is a free man, despite sexually abusing dozens of underage girls according to police and prosecutors. His victims have never had a voice, until now.

The journalism awards for the Miami Herald’s “Perversion of Justice’‘ investigative series continue to accumulate.

The series, written by reporter Julie K. Brown, with photos and videos by Emily Michot, was honored Tuesday by the Sidney Hillman Foundation with a 2019 prize for journalism in service of the common good.

The awards, now in their 69th year, recognize journalists and public figures for socially responsible journalism. The Hillman Foundation was founded in New York in 1946. The group handed out its first awards in 1950.

“In a time when this country’s highest powers have taken it as their business to demean the work of journalists, it is particularly significant for us to honor those who have taken up the tools of journalism to challenge corrupt power wherever it may reside,” said Hillman judge, author Ta-Nehisi Coates.

In addition to Coates, Hillman judges this year were the New Yorker’s Jelani Cobb and Hendrik Hertzberg, Reuters’ Alix Freedman, the American Prospect’s Harold Myerson and The Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel.

2019 HIllman Prizes

In addition to the Newspaper Journalism award to Brown and Michot’s work, 2019 Hillman Prizes went to:

Book Journalism: Anna Clark for “The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy,” Metropolitan Books.

Magazine Journalism: Hannah Dreier: “Trapped in Gangland,” ProPublica, New York magazine, Newsday, This American Life, New York Times Magazine.

Broadcast Journalism: Jacob Soboroff and Julia Ainsley for “Torn Apart: Crisis at the Border,” NBC News and MSNBC.

Web Journalism: Joshua Schneyer, Michael Pell, Andrea Januta, Deborah Nelson for “Ambushed at Home,” Reuters.

Opinion & Analysis Journalism: Adam Serwer The Atlantic.

National Headliner winner

On Monday, Brown and Michot’s series also won first place in investigative reporting and “best of show” in the 85th annual National Headliner Awards competition.

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The Epstein story

The Herald team’s series detailed how Jeffrey Epstein, a wealthy New York hedge fund manager, molested and trafficked underage girls, and how he managed to manipulate federal and state prosecutors into giving him and others involved in his crimes immunity from federal prosecution.

After Brown and Michot’s reporting, a federal judge ruled that the deal — negotiated by former Miami federal prosecutor Alexander Acosta — was illegal. The U.S. Department of Justice has opened a probe into whether Acosta, now President Donald Trump’s secretary of labor, committed prosecutorial misconduct.

The girls who were abused by Jeffrey Epstein and the cops who championed their cause remain angry over what they regard as a gross injustice, while Epstein's employees and those who engineered his non-prosecution agreement have prospered.

Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.


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