The judges applauded Duhigg for his impressive combination of science reporting and investigative journalism. He looked at possible health risks of chemicals commonly found in the nation’s drinking water and the failure of regulators to update and enforce existing laws pertaining to such chemicals. “Charles Duhigg has set a new standard for science journalism and investigative reporting, distilling hundreds of research papers and regulatory reports into a damning indictment of water quality in the United States,” said Robert Lee Hotz, a science writer for The Wall Street Journal and one of the contest judges.
“It’s an enormous honor to receive this award from the AAAS,” said Duhigg, who won for his “Toxic Waters” series in The New York Times. “The Times’ investigation into the quality of American waters and the enforcement of environmental laws was only possible because scientists were so generous with their insights and expertise. To be recognized by the judges for ‘getting it right’ is enormously gratifying.”
As part of his reporting, Duhigg reviewed hundreds of scientific papers and spoke with dozens of researchers. He filed more than 500 Freedom of Information Act requests, built his own database, and ran thousands of queries to search for patterns in the data.