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The Intercept Report: The Impact of Our Recent Stories (First Quarter)

In our first Impact Report of 2018, we want to bring you up-to-date about the impact of recent stories from our investigative journalists, along with events and special projects we’ve launched – with help from our members.

Murder in Las Vegas 2018 began with a victory for Kirstin Lobato, a young woman who served nearly 16 years in prison after being wrongly convicted in 2002 of the grisly murder of a homeless man in Las Vegas.

Reporter Jordan Smith’s piece Nightmare in Sin City was the result of a nine-month investigation that began in 2015 – and continued two years later, with additional follow-ups on the appeal process. Smith uncovered shockingly inadequate work by police detectives and revealed the state’s gross mishandling of the case. After The Intercept’s investigation, the Nevada Supreme Court ordered a new hearing, which was held in October 2017. Lobato’s conviction was overturned on December 29, 2017. The charges were dismissed, and Lobato was released from prison on January 3.

The Fall of a Powerful White House Figure As the FBI conducted a background check on Rob Porter before he became one of the most powerful figures in the White House, the bureau learned from his two ex-wives that he had allegedly abused them. His first wife provided the FBI with photos of herself after one beating, yet he was still able to join the administration. The Intercept broke the news of the photos, which helped force Porter’s resignation on February 7.

The Kushners and the Middle East Clayton Swisher and Ryan Grim’s story on Jared Kushner’s meeting with Qatar’s financial minister was picked up by many other news outlets in March. The Intercept reported that Kushner's real estate firm sought investment for its financially distressed New York City property directly from the Qatari government in April 2017. Qatar said no. Shortly thereafter, Kushner supported a diplomatic assault on Qatar – one that Donald Trump took credit for – sparking an ongoing crisis that is reshaping the Middle East. The Hill, the Daily Beast, Anderson Cooper, MarketWatch, New York Magazine, ABC News, and NBC News (which was also working on the topic) picked up The Intercept’s scoop. Shortly after we broke the story, The Intercept published the blockbuster revelation that Jared Kushner may have leveraged U.S. intelligence to tell the crown prince of Saudi Arabia the identities of opponents within his royal family — and that the prince purportedly said Kushner was “in his pocket.” In another piece that same week, Grim and Swisher described how Joshua Kushner, Jared's brother, met with the Qatari government last year to discuss potential investments.


George Polk Award The Intercept’s Iona Craig won the prestigious Polk Award for Foreign Reporting for her investigation of a covert SEAL Team 6 raid on a remote village in Yemen in January 2017. The Trump administration described the raid as “highly successful.” Craig undertook a grueling and risky journey to the site of the assault, driving hundreds of miles through desert terrain where Al Qaeda and Islamic State forces held sway. She emerged with a story that exposed the operation’s devastating civilian toll and destroyed the Trump narrative of an effective raid that, despite the death of a Navy SEAL, resulted in an important capture of intelligence information. This narrative had been repeated by major media outlets, which had not taken the time and effort to investigate what really happened on the ground. To this day, more than a year after the botched raid, Craig is the only foreign journalist to report from al Ghayil, the site of the attack. Read the story that earned her one of the highest honors in American journalism, then check out the perilous journey she took to report the facts.

The Innocence Network Journalism Award The Innocence Network Journalism Award honors investigative reporting that identifies and exonerates wrongfully convicted individuals. This year, The Intercept's Liliana Segura was the recipient for her articles The Fire on Harvard Avenue, about a mother wrongfully convicted of killing her own daughters, and What Happened to Rachel Gray?, about a flawed criminal investigation that led to a man spending two decades on death row.

Pictures of the Year Award Pictures of the Year, the oldest and most prestigious photojournalism program and competition in the world, gave The Intercept the Award of Excellence for Online Feature Story Visual Editing. TI’s winning photo essay, The Unclaimed Dead, follows scientists at Texas State University’s forensics lab as they work to identify the remains of bodies recovered along migration routes near the U.S.-Mexico border. Additional recognition for our journalism: Editor & Publisher “Eppy” Award for Best News Website Editor & Publisher “Eppy” Award for Investigative/Enterprise Feature: Code of Silence Online Journalism Award for Investigative Data Journalism: Trial and Terror Online Journalism Award for Feature Reporting: America Reloaded Headliner Award for Web or Interactive Project: Trial and Terror Ithaca College “Izzy” Award for outstanding achievement in independent media: Lee Fang and Sharon Lerner


The Intercept at SXSW The Intercept showed up in force for 2018’s SXSW. Editor-in-Chief Betsy Reed and’s Editorial SVP Anna Holmes discussed how journalists, visual artists, and storytellers are finding a way to tell stories with depth and context, while rising above tweet-driven, hyper-paced news culture.   Rubina Madan Fillion, director of audience engagement, hosted lightning talks about measuring the impact of journalism and developing a relationship with readers. Deputy Editor and “Texas Blood” author Roger Hodge held a book reading and discussion about new borderland economies of place and power, sovereignty and subordination, surveillance and resistance. We’re pleased to report that D.C. Bureau Chief Ryan Grim’s conversation with Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, is available for viewing. Grim and O’Rourke, who is running against Ted Cruz for Senate, had a candid conversation about the Texas Senate race and whether 2018 will be the year that small donors make a difference at the local level.

Lessons From Standing Rock On March 13, The Intercept and Normal Life Pictures held a standing room-only event at the Bell House in Brooklyn to discuss the victories and challenges of Standing Rock. Intercept reporters Alleen Brown and Alice Speri discussed their groundbreaking Oil and Water series, which exposed how law enforcement and mercenary forces hired by the firm behind the Dakota Access pipeline, worked in tandem to surveil and suppress the water protector movement. Filmmaker Eli Cane showed excerpts from his award-winning documentary “On a Knife Edge,” about coming of age in the contemporary American Indian Movement. And The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill moderated a discussion featuring Lakota historian and activist Nick Estes and NoDAPL organizer and tribal attorney Tara Houska.

Our New Podcast: Deconstructed In March, The Intercept launched Deconstructed hosted by columnist Mehdi Hasan. Each week, Deconstructed takes on a big news story that the rest of the media has either ignored or just plain gotten wrong. Listeners will hear voices not afraid to challenge the consensus. Hasan is known for his deft interrogations of politicians, CIA operatives, generals, and pundits around the world. He joined The Intercept as a columnist last year and brought with him his razor-sharp commentary and take-no-bullshit attitude. As he noted in the debut episode, he’s “an immigrant — a brown, Muslim journalist in Trump’s America. I hit the Trump trifecta.”   Deconstructed cuts through the political drivel and media misinformation to give listeners the big-picture perspective on what’s really going on.

Engaging With Our Journalists Many news organizations have abandoned their comment sections. At The Intercept, we believe comments are essential for building online communities. That’s one reason we recently updated our comment section to encourage healthy discourse. Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald and Rubina Madan Fillion, director of audience engagement, explained why they see comments as valuable: “Journalists often tout their responsibility to hold the powerful accountable. Comments are a way to hold journalists themselves accountable.” The technology blog Techdirt noted, “Intercept's moves are a welcome change of pace for an industry that has spent the last few years insisting that muzzling your readership somehow represents a breathless dedication to quality online discourse.”

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