Laura Sullivan

Laura Sullivan

NPR investigative reporter

Laura Sullivan is a NPR News investigative correspondent whose work has cast a light on some of the country's most disadvantaged people.

Sullivan is one of NPR's most decorated journalists, with three Peabody Awards and two Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Batons. She joined NPR in 2004 as a correspondent on the National Desk. For six years she covered crime and punishment issues, with reports airing regularly on “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered” and other NPR programs before joining NPR's investigations unit.

Her unflinching series "Native Foster Care," which aired in three parts on All Things Considered in October 2011, examined how lack of knowledge about Native culture and traditions and federal financial funding all influence the decision to remove so many Native-American children from homes in South Dakota. Through more than 150 interviews with state and federal officials, tribal representatives and families from eight South Dakota tribes, plus a review of thousands of records, Sullivan and NPR producers pieced together a narrative of inequality in the foster care system across the state. In addition to her third Peabody, the series also won Sullivan her second Robert F. Kennedy Award.

"Bonding for Profit" – a three-part investigative series that aired on Morning Edition and All Things Considered in 2010 – earned Sullivan her second duPont and Peabody, as well as awards from the Scripps Howard Foundation, Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, and the American Bar Association. Working with editor Steve Drummond, Sullivan's stories in this series revealed deep and costly flaws in one of the most common – and commonly misunderstood – elements of the US criminal justice system.

Also in 2011, Sullivan was honored for the second time by Investigative Reporters and Editors for her two part series examining the origins of Arizona's controversial immigration law SB 1070.

For the three-part series, "36 Years of Solitary: Murder, Death and Justice on Angola," she was honored with a 2008 George Foster Peabody Award, a 2008 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award, and her first Robert F. Kennedy Award.

In 2007, Sullivan exposed the epidemic of rape on Native American reservations, which are committed largely by non-Native men, and examined how tribal and federal authorities have failed to investigate those crimes. In addition to a duPont, this two-part series earned Sullivan a DART Award for outstanding reporting, an Edward R. Murrow and her second Gracie Award from the Alliance for Women in Media.

Her first Gracie was for a three-part series examining of the state of solitary confinement in this country. She was also awarded the 2007 Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize.

Photo by Linda Fittante

Recent News

What's next for Kansas high school students whose story led to principal's ouster

The six high school students in Pittsburg, Kansas, whose investigative journalism led to the resignation of their newly appointed principal are still reveling in the wake of an article that swept the nation, and a leading free-press expert said it’s the kind of journalism communities need in the wake of corporate cutbacks. 

Incubating new economic models for journalism.

Latest from iLab

From the Pentagon Papers to Trump: How the government gained the upper hand against leakers

The Pentagon Papers helped shape legal and ethical standards for journalistic truth-telling on matters of top secret government affairs. Openness, in the eyes of the public and the courts, would usually prevail over government secrecy, shifting power from politicians back to citizens and news organizations. That balance of power is taking on a renewed significance today in the wake of Reality Winner’s alleged recent national security leak, prosecution of members of the press and anti-press and anti-leak rhetoric by the Trump administration.

Seven signs Cuban media is moving toward openness

While it’s too soon to tell if a true sea change is in the works, here are seven relatively recent shifts in the Cuban mediasphere. Many of them would have seemed inconceivable just a few years ago and bear watching in the future.

Blogs

Most Recent Posts

TV viewership declines, diversity stalls in newsrooms

Revenue and audience trends for Hispanic- and black-oriented news outlets have mirrored closely the fluctuation of the industry overall, a recent Pew Research Center report found.


Survivors reflect on life after deadly bacterial infections

When FRONTLINE’s "Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria" premiered in 2013, Addie Rerecich and David Ricci were still struggling with the consequences of devastating antibiotic-resistant infections. Four years later, FRONTLINE and the Workshop caught up with the two survivors to find out how they were doing as part of an updated broadcast of the film tonight, July 25, 2017, nationwide on PBS. Check local listings.

Sinclair exemplifies consolidation concerns in TV news

Nearly 15 years ago, the five largest television companies owned about 180 of the country’s local news channels. Now, after years of dizzying buying sprees, mergers and billions of dollars spent, those companies own more than twice that — a pattern of consolidation that worries many, both within the industry and outside of it. 

More Republicans think negatively about higher ed

For the first time since Pew began tracking it, a majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (58 percent) now say colleges “have a negative effect on the country.” That’s compared to 72 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners who say colleges and universities have a positive impact. Whatever the cause, colleges and universities now share in a dubious distinction: as some of the most divisive national institutions. The only other institution that, according to Pew, divides Americans more? The national news media. 


What We're Reading: Inspiring investigations

Recent investigative and longform work that has inspired our IRW summer interns.

Partners

Workshop Partners

We publish online and in print, often teaming up with other news organizations. We're working now on a new program with FRONTLINE producers, to air later in the year, and on the "Years of Living Dangerously," a series on climate change that has begun airing on Showtime. A story last year on the use of solitary confinement in immigration detention centers was co-published with The New York Times. Our updates to our long-running BankTracker project, in which you can view the financial health of every bank and credit union in the country, have been published with msnbc.com, now nbcnews.com, and we co-published stories in our What Went Wrong series on the economy with The Philadelphia Inquirer and New America Media. Our graduate students are working as researchers with Washington Post reporters, and our new senior editor is a member of the Post's investigative team. Learn more on our partners page.

Projects

Investigating Power update

Investigating Power update

Profiles of notable journalists and their stories of key moments in U.S. history in the last 50 years can be found on the Investigating Power site. See Workshop Executive Editor Charles Lewis' latest video interviews as well as historic footage and timelines. You can also read more about the project and why we documented these groundbreaking examples of original, investigative journalism that helped shape or change public perceptions on key issues of our time, from civil rights to Iraq, here.