Ky CIR wins award from Investigative Reporters and Editors

Several members of the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting staff, including former Courier-Journal reporter Ralph Dunlop, took top honors in the Radio/Audio – Small Market division in the Investigative Reporters and Editors competition. They won for “The Pope’s Long Con,” an entry the judges said was powerful yet heartbreaking. KCIR also was a finalist with its “Louisville Police Don’t Enforce Immigration – But Help Feds Do It,” report in the same division.



  • The Pope’s Long Con,” The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, R.G. Dunlop, Jacob Ryan, Laura Ellis, Brendan McCarthy, Erica Peterson, Stephen George, Sean Cannon, Alexandra Kanik

Judges’ comments: This was a powerful and ultimately heartbreaking entry. The reporting team dug deep into the secret history of State Rep. Danny Ray Johnson, a pastor who referred to himself as the pope of his flock. They unearthed evidence of a long track record of fraud and self-enrichment, including perjury and an insurance scam, and the sexual assault of a 17-year-old girl. It had immediate impact, with lawmakers calling for Johnson’s resignation within hours of the story’s publication. Tragically, Johnson took his life days later. Faced with an emotionally wrenching event, KyCIR handled itself with compassion and sensitivity.


Chemawa Indian School Investigation,” Oregon Public Broadcasting

Judges’ comments: This important story exposed unethical practices at a school for Native American youth in Oregon, including favoritism, grade inflation and whistleblower retaliation.

A Scar on the System,” WNIN and Side Effects Public Media

Judges’ comments: This was an outrageous investigation of a psychiatrist who may have taken shortcuts on the mental health evaluations of criminal defendants and people seeking disability benefits.

Louisville Police Don’t Enforce Immigration – But Help The Feds Do It,” Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting

Judges’ comments: Through analysis of police call logs and videos, this investigation proves that Louisville police have lied to the public about their role in immigration raids.


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