Izzy Award for Independent Media to Be Shared by In These Times, Mohammed El-Kurd, Lynzy Billing, and Trina Reynolds-Tyler and Sarah Conway

By IC News, April 2, 2024
Award ceremony will be held at the end of April 2024.

The Park Center for Independent Media (PCIM) at Ithaca College has announced that this year’s Izzy Award “for outstanding achievement in independent media” will be shared by nonprofit news outlet In These Times for economic justice stories that centered workers; journalist Mohammed El-Kurd for powerful reporting from Palestine; Lynzy Billing with New Lines Magazine and Inside Climate News for chronicling the American military’s environmental devastation in Afghanistan; and Trina Reynolds-Tyler and Sarah Conway for their joint investigative series “Missing In Chicago,” which exposed police malpractice.

The Izzy Award is named for I. F. “Izzy” Stone, the dissident journalist who launched I. F. Stone’s Weekly in 1953 and questioned McCarthyism, the Vietnam War, racial injustice, and government deceit. An award ceremony will be scheduled for late April 2024.

In These Times

In 2023, In These Times redoubled its focus on economic justice and social movements that strive for a more humane world as it centered workers overlooked by mainstream media across the U.S.

The judges hailed the outlet’s reporting as “a relentless and tough-minded focus on the lives, struggles, and voices of working-class people — spanning Iowa meatpacking laborers, Appalachian coal miners, poor women in Mississippi, and employees of the high-end resorts in Montana and Colorado who can’t afford housing anywhere near their jobs.”

In a two-part series, Luis Feliz Leon gave intimate voice to the diverse immigrant workers at Tyson Meatpacking who have toiled in and bravely resisted grueling conditions. In These Times printed and translated Leon’s articles into Spanish and French so workers could share the reporting.

In a story of corporate greed that garnered attention from the U.S. Department of Labor, Kim Kelly’s powerful investigation documented the reemergence of the excruciating, deadly — and preventable — black lung disease.

Joseph Bullington’s impactful reporting on resort laborers offered a vivid socio-economic analysis of gentrification affecting workers in the rural American West. And Bryce Covert revealed in intimate and sensitive detail the difficulties arising in a post-Dobbs world when a woman is forced to give birth in a state offering little support to pregnant workers.

Mohammed El-Kurd, The Nation

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Mohammed El-Kurd

Mohammed El-Kurd is the first Palestine correspondent in The Nation’s 160-year history as an independent magazine. In 2023, El-Kurd wrote about multiple aspects of dispossession in Jerusalem and colonization in Palestine, including the timely, important stories “The Right to Speak for Ourselves” and “Western Journalists Have Palestinian Blood on Their Hands.” This coverage of the Israeli occupation, and the Palestinian resistance, challenged mainstream narratives and assumptions with grounding insights on human rights.

El-Kurd’s unique voice and staunchly independent reporting from Palestine precedes the Israel-Hamas war, and has continued to offer fundamental insights that demand the world pays attention to Palestinian perspectives of the war in Gaza.

The judges also called attention to El-Kurd’s work as a poet, saying, “He is recognized for more than the outstanding historical context and deep, nuanced reporting he brings to his audience. El-Kurd also exhibits outstanding qualities as a writer with a unique voice and prose that distinguishes his work as cogent, impactful, literary and impossible to ignore.

Lynzy Billing, New Lines Magazine, Inside Climate News

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Lynzy Billing

Lynzy Billing’s 2023 reporting with New Lines Magazine and Inside Climate News chronicled the environmental devastation left in the wake of the withdrawal of the American military from Afghanistan. After 2019, when she returned to the country to explore her family’s story, Billing conducted interviews with over six dozen villagers and medical authorities around three of the largest U.S. military installations.

Billing found that Americans inflicted more than litter and waste on the landscape, filling the air with toxic pollutants and dumping raw sewage into Afghanistan’s fields and waterways. This amounted to 900,000 pounds of sewage per day during the peak of the occupation in 2011.

Neither the Biden administration nor Congress offered assistance to the Afghans affected by this damage. But Billing tracked them down, gathered their medical records, interviewed them and their doctors, and bore witness to their plight.

Of Billing’s work, the judges said “thorough and fearless reporting exposes the havoc caused by 20 years of U.S. policy in Afghanistan and its tragic humanitarian and environmental consequences for the coming generations. Billing’s work lays bare the double standards on the treatment of war victims at home and abroad. It documents ample evidence for policymakers and citizens in the U.S. to question the conduct of executive authorities while waging war in Afghanistan.”

Trina Reynolds-Tyler and Sarah Conway

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Trina Reynolds-Tyler (left) and Sarah Conway

Missing in Chicago,” a seven-part investigative series written by Trina Reynolds-Tyler (Invisible Institute) and Sarah Conway (City Bureau), exposed systemic patterns of mismanagement in Chicago police’s handling of missing persons cases — which disproportionately affect Black women and girls.

Research for the series entailed an analysis of 30,000 complaint files, which identified buried patterns of misconduct that marginalized homelessness, substance use, and mental health disorders. Investigators prioritized narrative justice, identifying the intersection of these issues to humanize subjects and restore people’s power in their own stories.

Judges said “‘Missing in Chicago’ exemplifies many of the qualities of the best local journalism being produced today: deeply investigative, collaborative, data-driven, community-focused, and nonprofit, with an emphasis on multimedia narrative. In the spirit of Izzy Stone, this in-depth reporting penetrated to where the silences are, exposing injustices committed against some of the most vulnerable members of society, while drawing attention to a systemic social problem that must be confronted.”

Special recognition for Democracy Now!

In 2023, Democracy Now! provided exemplary coverage that documented the destruction wreaked in Gaza and raised Palestinian voices to public awareness. The Izzy judges agreed that the fiercely independent broadcast news outlet, whose host Amy Goodman won the inaugural Izzy Award, merited a special recognition during this year’s Izzy Award consideration.

This year’s judges were Jeff Cohen, founder of FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting); Esther Kaplan, investigations editor at Business Insider; Victor Pickard, professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania; Patricia Rodriguez, former chair of the Department of Politics at Ithaca College and analyst at Earthworks in Washington, D.C.; Todd Schack, Associate Professor of Journalism and Media Studies at Ithaca College; and Raza Rumi, the outgoing director of the Park Center for Independent Media and a Distinguished Lecturer at Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute in New York.

For more information on the Park Center for Independent Media, visit www.ithaca.edu/indy