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 happens when a driver kills someone while fiddling with a cellphone? Often, not much

Although there are no national statistics on the results of prosecutions brought against distracted drivers who kill or severely injure someone, light punishment appears to be the norm. An informal review by FairWarning of prosecutions of distracted drivers — cases gleaned from news reports over the last five years that involved more than 100 deaths overall — found that few were sentenced to serve for more than a month or two, or given fines of more than $1,000.

Incubating new economic models for journalism.

Latest from iLab

Future of DC transparency

The future of transparency in D.C. government is murky, open records advocates say.

Since its creation in 2011, the Office of Open Government has been tasked with keeping more than 90 District agencies in compliance with the Freedom of Information Act. But the board that oversees the office will not reappoint its inaugural director, Traci L. Hughes, making transparency advocates worried about the office’s future.  

The power of reporters, working together

Workshop Executive Editor Charles Lewis writes about global teamwork in investigative reporting in his chapter for a new book published by the Reuters Institute at the University of Oxford. 

Blogs

Most Recent Posts

Apprehensions at U.S.-Mexico border down from 2017

The number of people apprehended or denied entry into the U.S. dropped from 2017.

Donations to nonprofit newsrooms continue to grow after 'Trump bump'

Despite his persistent claims of fake news and shoddy reporting, President Donald Trump’s contentious relationship with the media has actually provided a much-needed financial boost for many nonprofit,  investigative journalism organizations across the country.

Asbestos, highway safety and child strangulation prevention

Check out our three reprints from FairWarning.

Stories include preventions in child strangulation, Johnson & Johnsons carcinogen worries and highway safety.

 

How Trump is shaping immigration policy

“It is time to reform these outdated immigration rules, and finally bring our immigration system into the 21st century," said President Donald Trump at his first State of the Union. 

What Trump didn’t talk about were the ups and downs of immigration under his administration. The Investigative Reporting Workshop built a timeline of immigration during Trump’s first year, and we’ll continue to update it.

American trust in the media is low, but majority believes it is necessary

More than 80 percent of U.S. adults believe the news media are critical or very important to our democracy, according to a recent survey by Gallup and the Knight Foundation.

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.