Cox Media Group investigative teams and KFF Health News win 2024 Goldsmith Award

ATLANTA — The Channel 2 Action News Investigates team was honored as winners of the Goldsmith Award for Excellence in Journalism for its coverage exposing how overpayments from the Social Security Administration had cost millions of Americans their monthly benefits.

The prestigious award was given to the investigative teams across Channel 2 Action News’ parent company Cox Media Group (CMG) and their investigation partners on the stories, KFF Health News.

The annual awards ceremony was held in Boston, Mass. on Wednesday evening, where the Harvard Kennedy School honored Channel 2 Action News’ reporting with an inaugural Goldsmith Awards special citation.

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“We’re honored to receive this prestigious award because it reflects CMG’s commitment to local news and investigative journalism,” Marian Pittman, CMG’s President of Content, said in a statement. “The team’s relentless efforts to uncover the truth behind complex government policies and their implementation has resulted in tangible changes within the SSA and will directly benefit millions of people impacted by overpayments.”

The citation recognizes journalism that examines how government in the United States functions, including how and why it can fail, as well as how those same problems can be solved.

CMG’s investigation showed how the SSA had been overpaying billions of dollars every year to vulnerable Americans, then demanding they pay it back years later, even though it was the government’s mistake.


The media company said teams from CMG’s local television markets and its Washington News Bureau each made significant contributions to the reporting effort, collectively airing more than 100 news stories on the topic in 2023. They also said partnering with KFF Health News helped to elevate the investigation’s impact and reached millions of viewers on TV and online.

The investigation by CMG’s reporters and producers, and in partnership with KFF Health News, found that more than two million people were hit with overpayment every year, and that afterward, the SSA often lowers or stops monthly checks to recover the debts.

“This series exposed the significant impact of these mistakes on millions of people, including those who had little to no ability to pay back the government, leaving some people to lose their homes, cars, and savings,” Drew Altman, President and Chief Executive Officer of KFF, said. “This is why KFF reports on systemic issues like this through its news service—to expose how people are affected by policy and challenges.”

Reporting by Channel 2 Action News Investigates and its partners led to a congressional hearing and tougher oversight, and the SSA recently announced significant changes to its regulations to limit clawback, while restoring benefits for several of the people impacted by the process who were featured in the CMG stories online and on air.

Social Security Commissioner Martin O’Malley testified to the U.S. Senate on March 20 that he was taking several stopes to address the issues covered by CMG and Channel 2 Action News’ reporting, and said the SSA will stop intercepting 100% of a beneficiary’s monthly check if they fail to respond to demands for repayment. Instead, the agency will hold back just 10% to make up the debt.

Comprehensive coverage of the SSA story from CMG, and other important local and investigative reports that have protected thousands of consumers can be found online here.

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