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“Black Out”

Excellence in National/International Investigative Reporting, the Ursula and Gilbert Farfel Prize

The Washington Post, 2023

Author(s): Emily Giambalvo, Michael Lee and Dave Sheinin


Reporters from The Washington Post held NFL leadership and team owners accountable for hiring and firing practices that still discriminate against Black coaches 20 years after the league implemented a policy to resolve such inequities.  

Prompted by Brian Flores’s firing as head coach of the Miami Dolphins and the subsequent discrimination lawsuit he filed, Post reporters Emily Giambalvo, Michael Lee and Dave Sheinin launched the investigation. They drew attention to the forces and the people behind a problem that has worsened rather than improved.  

The resulting journalism was a mix of state-of-the-art data analysis, traditional reporting and multimedia storytelling. The project had an immediate impact, prompting calls for changes to how the NFL hires and fires coaches.  

The Post’s data reporters gathered and analyzed three decades of hiring and firing data from a multitude of sources. They confirmed the racial identity of virtually every coach since 1990. The data analysis, serving as the foundational element of the project, was brought to life through interviews with dozens of current and former coaches, players, executives, agents and others from across the league.  

The Post’s reporting also focused on the role that the league’s team owners – almost exclusively older, white, billionaire men – have played for decades in impeding the paths of Black coaches. The owners largely refused to account for their roles, with all but two declining The Post’s interview requests. 

The Ursula and Gilbert Farfel Prize
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Ursula and Dr. Gilbert Farfel created an endowed scholarship at Ohio University, Ursula’s alma mater, to support establishment of this award. Presented in cooperation with the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University, the prize honors excellence in investigative reporting.