An Impossible Choice,” the inewsource investigation that delved into an unseen world where thousands of people are kept alive on machines, has won the prestigious Meyer “Mike” Berger award for in-depth human interest reporting from Columbia Journalism School.

This is the third national recognition for “An Impossible Choice.”

The Berger award is named after the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with the New York Times. It was decided by Columbia faculty members, who wrote,

“An Impossible Choice: ‘Deciding When a Life is No Longer Worth Living’ is a combination of powerful investigative journalism and good storytelling, commendable for its formal innovation. It employs audio and video as well as text in complimentary ways to deepen the story, carrying on the ideals Mike Berger exemplified in the shoe-leather era for the digital age.”

inewsource reporters Joanne Faryon and Brad Racino, who produced the project and 10-minute mini-documentary, will go to New York to receive the award and speak with journalism students at Columbia in May.

Here is how Columbia Journalism School describes Berger and the award on its website:

Meyer “Mike” Berger won a 1950 Pulitzer Prize for local reporting for his story on a veteran who went on a shooting spree in Camden, New Jersey, killing several residents. He then re-introduced the newspaper’s “About New York” column in the early 1950s, setting the standard for evocative and eloquent human interest reporting. Berger passed away in 1959. Louis Schweitzer, a New York industrialist who admired Berger’s work, created the Berger Award in 1960.

To read “An Impossible Choice,” to view its videos, animation and to participate in a community conversation, visit:

If you are member of inewsource, thank you! This kind of journalism would not be possible without your support.

Becoming a member at any level is easy. Click here.

—Lorie Hearn
Executive Director, inewsource

Brad Racino was the assistant editor and senior investigative reporter at inewsource. He's a big fan of transparency, whistleblowers and government agencies forgetting to redact key information from FOIA requests. Brad received his master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri in...

2 replies on “Columbia Journalism School names inewsource 2015 Berger Award Winner”

  1. When inewsource “reporters” speak to Columbia Journalism School students, I hope they will discuss the journalistic and medical ethical precepts that were abandoned in pursuit of this “story” that rode roughshod over patients’ dignity and privacy rights. Inewsource should disclose that “An Impossible Choice” was actually a political quid pro quo among interested parties, not shoe-leather journalism in the public interest.

    Sharp Hospital unethically provided inewsource unprecedented access to its Coronado premises, to hospital medical and administrative staffs, and to dependent debilitated long-term-care patients who were identified by name and inhumanely filmed in their physically compromised circumstances.

    Inewsource pejoratively described the Sharp facility and others like it as “vent farms;” inewsource enlisted patients’ family members to describe their own and their relatives’ desperate circumstances; inewsource frequently cited statewide “costs” for the medical maintenance of such patients — strongly suggesting there might be some option other than what presently exists. Inewsource unsympathetically portrayed unfortunate and helpless patients as expensive burdens to everyone — their families, the hospital, our society — and thinly veiled that point with the ambivalent name, “An Impossible Choice.”

    No mention that Sharp Hospital’s interests are involved. No mention that Sharp Hospital has been expensively –and unsuccessfully — lobbying the California State Legislature to increase state funding for the medical care of such long-term disabled patients. No mention that Sharp Hospital is a major contributor to the San Diego State Campanile Foundation which supports both inewsource and KPBS. No mention that a Sharp Hospital executive sits on the board of the SDSU Campanile Foundation. No hint that this “story” might be viewed as a quid pro quo to assist Sharp Hospital in return for its largesse to SDSU’s Campanile Foundation which in turn funds inewsource.

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