The LA Times has won the prestigious Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism for the paper’s 18-month, 6-part investigation into the $5.7 billion plan rebuild nine community colleges in Los Angeles. Michael Finnegan and Gale Holland were the lead reporters on the pieces, along with investigative reporter Paul Pringle, data specialists Doug Smith, Sandra Poindexter and Ben Welsh and graphics producer Raul Ranoa.

“This was an extraordinarily challenging reporting assignment that documented pretty much every abuse of the public trust that could be made by public officials when they have a lot of taxpayer money to spend,” said Bingham award judge Walter Robinson. “This was an important public works project whose biggest beneficiaries should have been working class community college students. Instead, the funds were used to award lucrative contracts to politically connected companies, with lax oversight. The result, richly documented and compellingly presented by the Times, was wasteful spending for inferior design, shoddy construction, excessive and unchecked billing practices, and a boondoggle for the relatives and friends of many of the decision-makers. This work by the Times is a stark reminder of the importance of the watchdog role the press plays when government spends scarce public funds.”

The Bingham award comes with a $20,000 prize. Not too shabby. Congrats to all involved!