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Bloomberg News to Receive Robert F. Kennedy Award for Reporting on Human Rights

May 22, 2014

Tonight, Bloomberg News and Bloomberg Markets magazine reporters Michael Smith, Tim Culpan, Alex Webb, Anatoly Kurmanaev and editor Jonathan Neumann will receive a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for their reporting on the tainted supply chain funding the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a terrorist group also known as the FARC. The awards, first established in 1968, recognize reporting on human rights, social justice and other issues important to Kennedy.

“Tungsten’s Tainted Trail,” published in Bloomberg Markets magazine last August, uncovered how sales of the illegally-mined metal funded the FARC and ended up in products like BMWs, iPhones and BIC pens. The story also details the violent control the FARC wields over the region, forcing Puinawai Indians to pay for the right to mine before braving treacherous rapids and police patrols to deliver the tungsten to smugglers. Nineteen people were killed and one kidnapped by the FARC over the course of Smith’s reporting.

Following publication of the story, Apple, Samsung, BIC and all of the luxury car companies named opened investigations into their supply lines. Colombian regulators said they would shut down the mine by force, if necessary.

The Robert F. Kennedy award is one of more than 100 awards and honorable mentions Bloomberg News has received for its reporting on human rights, beginning with recognition from the Overseas Press Club and the Livingston awards for a 1994 series on the human costs of Thailand’s extraordinary economic growth.

More recently, Bloomberg News has received awards for its reporting on various human rights issues across the globe:

Cam Simpson received the Joe and Laurie Dine Award from the Overseas Press Club earlier this year, recognizing his reporting on the lives of the workers producing Apple phones, and the tactics brokers used to recruit them into bonded labor. Simpson’s stories also received an award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) for investigative reporting.

“Mother India Starves Her Children”
Last year, Mehul Srivastava, Andrew MacAskill and Adi Narayan were honored by SABEW, the Hong Kong Journalists Association, the Society of Publishers in Asia and others for their series on the corruption and indifference compounding India’s hunger problem. One story revealed how $14.5 billion in food intended for the poor has been stolen over 10 years in one state alone.

“Inside Foxconn”
Frederik Balfour and Tim Culpan’s reporting from Foxconn’s factory campus in China gave context to the company’s role in the global supply chain and reported how founder Terry Guo dealt with the company’s suicides. The story, which ran in the September 13, 2011 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, received awards from the Overseas Press Club, the New York Press Club, Folio and was also recognized by the Society of Publishers in Asia.

“Big Pharma’s Shameful Secret”
This special report, published in the December 2005 issue of Bloomberg Markets won a George Polk Award, Sidney Hillman Prize, Investigative Reporters and Editors award and more. Written by Bloomberg reporters David Evans, Michael Smith and Liz Willen, the story documented the injuries and death of participants in clinical trials throughout the U.S. – and revealed that many were not properly informed of the risks.

“The Secret World of Modern Slavery”
Smith, along with his colleague David Voreacos, has also been lauded for his reporting on the brutal chain connecting South American slavery to household appliances and cars manufactured in the U.S. Following its publication in the December 2006 issue of Bloomberg Markets magazine, the story spurred a Congressional investigation and prompted an industry group pledge to avoid buying products linked to slavery. The story also received several awards, including a Sigma Delta Chi, National Headliner and the Roy W. Howard Award for Public Service Journalism from the Scripps Howard Foundation.

Bloomberg News congratulates Michael Smith, Tim Culpan, Alex Webb, Anatoly Kurmanaev and Jonathan Neumann for the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, along with all of the reporters and editors who have and continue to devote their time and effort to reporting on human rights. The Bloomberg Way demands that news be a basis for action, and as Bloomberg News approaches its 25th Anniversary, we could not be prouder of the impact these stories have made for the greater good.