Crosscut’s Recovery Watch project wins WashCOG’s Bunting Award

The Washington Coalition for Open Government recognized records and data reporting that helps readers learn about local pandemic relief spending.

A composite image of a woman in a field, a woman in a classroom, and stately building and a reporter interviewing a man

Crosscut’s Washington Recovery Watch reported on: top left, the impacts of federally funded highway construction; top right, efforts to extend COVID-19 relief in Washington schools; bottom left, transparency issues around the allocation of federal dollars by local governments. Reporter Brandon Block, bottom right, has led the coverage, along with contributions from other staffers and freelance reporters. (Young Kwak, Lindsey Wasson, John E. Deacon and Stephen Brashear)


After a year of investigating federal pandemic relief spending, Crosscut is honored to share that our Washington Recovery Watch reporting and records project has won the prestigious Kenneth Bunting Award for 2022 from the Washington Coalition for Open Government. The annual award recognizes journalists or media outlets that have advanced or used open-government laws to improve public transparency.

“Crosscut’s journalists brought into sharp focus enormous federal spending programs that otherwise would have been difficult for the public to comprehend because of their scale, fragmentation and long time frames,” the coalition wrote in an announcement last week. 

Since launching in March 2022, Recovery Watch has published more than 30 stories on housing aid shortcomings, disparities in relief grants and infrastructure challenges. In addition to that coverage, the coalition specifically cited the project’s Follow the Funds guide and records library, which help readers locate spending or grant data for their own communities. Crosscut also partnered with WashCOG to host a public workshop on how to track down local spending records and data. 

Read more about the project’s work in our recent Impact Report

We thank the coalition for its recognition of our work. Recovery Watch was nominated for the Bunting Award alongside many impressive and impactful reporting projects from across the state. We have admired that work from our colleagues throughout the past year and are proud to stand in their company. The coalition has also bestowed those projects with Key Awards for their efforts to improve government transparency.  

Crosscut has previously received two WashCOG Key Awards, one in 2022 for the Recovery Watch and another in 2021 for in-depth reporting on police credibility issues

Crosscut launched its investigations desk in January 2022 with grant support from the Inatai Foundation (previously the Group Health Foundation). Since then, as the investigations editor, I have overseen that coverage and the development of the records guide, and Brandon Block has served as the lead reporter on Recovery Watch. Several Crosscut staffers and freelancers have also contributed valuable work to the project. 

Recovery Watch’s work is not done. As the impacts of federal dollars unfold throughout the state, our continuing coverage will seek to bring understanding and accountability to this spending. In addition, further grant funding has recently allowed our investigations desk to hire a second reporter, Lizz Giordano, and we will keep growing our investigative coverage in 2023. Sign up for our Crosscut Investigates newsletter for monthly updates on how we conduct our reporting and how to find similar stories in your community.

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