April 10th, 2013

CNN Wins 2012 IRE Awards for Reporting in Benghazi and Mauritania

CNN is a multiple winner of the 2012 Investigative Reporters & Editors Awards in the breaking news and multiplatform categories, it was announced today by the IRE. These annual awards, which recognize the most outstanding watchdog journalism of the year, selected CNN’s coverage of the U.S. Consulate attack in Benghazi as an IRE Medal winner and CNN Digital’s investigation of slavery in Mauritania in ‘Slavery’s Last Stronghold.’

The Judges highlighted CNN senior international correspondent Arwa Damon’s “courageous reporting” in Benghazi, saying it “provided valuable context about the milieu in which the consulate attack occurred.”

For Mauritania, the Judges said ‘Slavery’s Last Stronghold’ upholds “the highest ideals of journalism,” recognizing the covert reporting of CNN Digital reporters John D. Sutter and Edythe McNamee.

Full judges’ comments after the jump.

Benghazi: US Consulate Attack,” CNN, Atlanta.
Arwa Damon and Sarmad Qaseera 
Category: Investigations Triggered By Breaking News

Judges’ Comments: When a militant group overran the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, resulting in the death of the ambassador and staffers, initial information was contradictory. CNN correspondent Arwa Damon and photojournalist Sarmad Qaseera arrived quickly in Benghazi to find valuable clues in the wide-open but looted and burned ruins of the consulate. Damon’s stories refuted reports that the attack on the consulate was part of larger anti-American demonstrations throughout the Middle East. Damon’s courageous reporting showed it appeared to be a planned attack that came after U.S. diplomats had been warned days before by Libyan officials about the deteriorating security there. The network stood firm in the face of harsh criticism from the State Department. The U.S. government’s investigation later proved CNN’s reporting to be accurate. Damon also spoke to Libyans who tried to save the ambassador that night, shedding light on what happened to him during his final hours. Her reporting provided additional valuable context about the milieu in which the consulate attack occurred.


Mauritania: Slavery’s Last Stronghold,” CNN Digital.
John D. Sutter and Edythe McNamee
Category: Multiplatform – Large

Judges’ comments: In an investigation that upholds the highest ideals of journalism, CNN digital reporters John D. Sutter and Edythe McNamee gained access to the West African nation of Mauritania to put a human face on the shocking story of modern-day slavery. The country was the last in the world to outlaw slavery, doing so only five years ago. However, only one slave owner has been prosecuted for the practice and the tradition of slavery continues to dehumanize generations of the nation’s citizens. Sutter and McNamee gained access to Mauritania to work on a story about locust swarms. They had to do their reporting on slavery covertly, often in the presence of a government-assigned minder. Their project was published online, accompanied by haunting photos and video. It also ran as a documentary on CNN International and CNN US.  “Slavery’s Last Stronghold” included firsthand accounts from freed and escaped slaves both in Mauritania and in Ohio in the US and one man’s transformative journey from slave owner to abolitionist.

Go here to see the IRE’s official press release announcing the winners and finalists in the 2012 IRE Awards.