2022 Investigative & Public Service Reporting (Small Newsroom) Winner

Thomas Peele, EdSource

About the Winner:

In a year of tumult for the California State University system – the nation’s largest public university – over its handling of sexual harassment cases, Thomas Peele’s reporting on prominent biology Professor David Stachura of Chico State stands out.

This investigation – a classic undertaking of documents and sourcing – demonstrated how local news organizations can trigger accountability even in a sprawling system like CSU.

Peele’s reporting followed a scandal reported in early 2022 by USA Today on how the chancellor of the 23-campus California State University system had mishandled sexual harassment allegations against a top administrator when he was president of Fresno State. EdSource sought records to determine how other sexual harassment cases were handled throughout CSU and first learned of Stachura’s disciplinary case through a public records request.

Comments From the Judges:

“Excellent reporting. Good idea off the bat to request the records. Impressive in that he not only reached out to every relevant source, but got many to speak with him, including the subject and his ex-wife. Not just a one-off: A story that showed the failure of an institution and sparked public outrage. Strong impact including resignation of the provost. Very interesting read.”

“Solid reporting and writing revealing disturbing behavior by a professor and a weak response from the university. Great digging into records to show the timeline of events. Strong public service to the students and professors.”