The Texas Observer and the Texas Democracy Foundation will award Hannah Dreier its 2019 MOLLY National Journalism Prize for her work on “Trapped in Gangland.” The award will be presented at a June 6 gala in Austin, when John J. Lennon, Pamela Colloff and Leora Smith will also receive honorable mentions for their work.
In her investigation for ProPublica — done in partnership with New York magazine, Newsday, This American Life, and the New York Times Magazine — Dreier explores the real-life world of the MS-13 gang as experienced by the residents of Suffolk County, New York, an upscale Long Island community. In the words of one judge:
The range of characters and voices explored for each story — victims, families, neglected kids trying to escape the gang — make the series a comprehensive, necessary dose of reality in a conversation dominated by the Trump administration’s fear-mongering. Dreier’s flawless storytelling weaves in historical context and analysis that tie the big picture to the present day. And her reporting has sparked change — not just in policy but in the lives of the victims she profiled. A remarkable piece of journalism.
Lennon, currently incarcerated, earned his honorable mention thanks to “stunning, big-picture” prison reporting from inside the system, while Colloff and Smith will be honored for their “ambitious” examination of the failings of blood spatter forensic science.
Each year, the Texas Observer and the Texas Democracy Foundation award a print or online journalism award of $5,000 and two honorable mentions of $1,000 for great American journalism. The competition honors the memory of Molly Ivins, legendary Observer reporter, columnist and former editor. Tickets to the June 6, 2019, gala are still available.