Blade Senior Writer Sam Roe has received the highest honor awarded by Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc., for a six-day series on the deadly metal beryllium.
Mr. Roe won an IRE medal for "Deadly Alliance: How government and industry chose weapons over workers," published in March and April, 1999.
The series exposed a 50-year pattern of misconduct by the U.S. government and the American beryllium industry - wrongdoing that caused a chronic lung disease in dozens of workers producing the strategic metal. The articles sparked major safety reforms, numerous lawsuits, and two congressional investigations.
"It was an exhaustive piece that forced into the open embarrassing information that government and industry wanted hidden, using tragic tales of people who spent years of their lives gasping for breath," the judges said.
Other winners of IRE medals were Katherine Boo of the Washington Post and Willy Stern of the Nashville Scene.
The awards will be presented in June at IRE's national conference in New York.
IRE is a nonprofit organization based at the University of Missouri school of journalism.
The group trains and supports investigative journalists and annually honors work in print, broadcast, and - for the first time this year - online media.
Project editor for The Blade's beryllium series was Dave Murray.
Lead photographer was Allan Detrich.