Kate Howard of the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting was named a recipient Tuesday of a national journalism award for her coverage of the University of Louisville.
Howard’s story — “The University of Louisville Foundation Bought An Empty Factory In Oklahoma—Because A Donor Asked” — won the Investigative Reporters and Editors award for radio investigative journalism. This is the second straight year that KyCIR won the national award in the small market radio category.
Howard’s investigation revealed that U of L’s nonprofit foundation bought into a factory in Oklahoma at a big donor’s request, citing the potential for a multi-million dollar benefit if it sold. The complicated real estate transaction appeared structured to help the donor avoid capital gains taxes, some experts said.
The foundation waited more than two years for a buyer, but ultimately canceled the arrangement after inquiries from KyCIR. Though a foundation attorney promised an independent review of the transaction when the investigation was published, he said months later that the nonprofit’s leaders had changed their minds and felt their own due diligence was thorough enough.
“A classic investigation of which any large network program would have been proud,” the IRE contest judges noted.
The IRE awards recognize the best investigative reporting in print, broadcast and online media.
The awards will be presented at IRE’s annual conference in June.