Taking Children at the Border

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“As soon as family separations came onto my radar, and I had evidence that even just a handful of families had been separated from one another, I started to do what investigative reporters do. I started to file FOIA requests. I started to organize my notes, keep lists of important names of sources and figures who were involved, because I think I knew, very early on, that I was going to be spending a long time on this story.”

Caitlin Dickerson won the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting, but her 30,000 word piece for “The Atlantic” on family separations at the border also is a masterclass in investigative reporting. Dickerson’s dogged efforts to push back against the denials from government officials that family separations were happening was challenging on many levels. In this episode of the podcast, Dickerson describes how, despite proof from her and other journalists, officials’ rhetoric that the press was not to be trusted added another layer of complexity to the reporting and undermined the public’s trust.

A full transcript of the episode is available here.

Learn more about our guests in this episode:

Caitlin Dickerson is a staff writer at “The Atlantic.” Previously, she was a national immigration reporter for “The New York Times.” In 2015, she won a Peabody Award for an NPR special series on the testing of mustard gas on American troops during World War II. She is also the recipient of an Edward R. Murrow Award for her investigative reporting and won the Livingston Award in 2023. Also in 2023, she won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for her deeply reported and compelling accounting of the Trump Administration policy that forcefully separated migrant children from their parents, resulting in abuses that have persisted under the current Biden Administration.

Ginger Thompson is ProPublica’s chief of correspondents. A Pulitzer Prize winner, she previously spent 15 years at “The New York Times” as the Mexico City bureau chief and as an investigative reporter. Thompson also served as a Latin America correspondent at “The Baltimore Sun,” where she co-wrote a series of stories about U.S. support for a secret Honduran military unit that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Her work has won the Maria Moors Cabot Prize, the Selden Ring Award for investigative reporting, an InterAmerican Press Association Award, and an Overseas Press Club Award. She was part of a team of national reporters at “The New York Times” that was awarded a 2000 Pulitzer Prize for the series “How Race is Lived in America.” She was also part of a team of reporters at ProPublica whose coverage of the Trump Administration’s Zero Tolerance policy won numerous other awards, including a Polk Award, a Peabody Award, a Tobenkin Prize, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

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