Carole Cadwalladr wins L’Esprit de RSF prize

Carole Cadwalladr has been named winner of the L’Esprit de RSF prize for her reporting on the role of data analytics in recent electoral campaigns, which was published in the Observer and followed up by media around the world.

Carole Cadwalladr wins L’Esprit de RSF prize

Carole’s series of sensational exclusives showed how personal data was used in online political campaigning. She has demonstrated the electoral power of digital platforms - especially Facebook - and examined the activities of Cambridge Analytica and its satellite AggregateIQ. Carole’s reporting has covered elections including the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union and the most recent United States presidential election.

The journalism has sparked official inquiries and investigations by politicians, governments, law enforcement agencies, and data protection agencies across the globe. In the UK, the information commissioner noted the reporting as the genesis of her investigation into the political uses of voters’ data that found “a disturbing disregard for voters’ personal privacy”. The UK culture select committee of MPs acknowledged Carole’s role in highlighting “both the amount of data that private companies and organisations hold on individuals, and the ability of technology to manipulate people”. In the US, there have been investigations from parties including the Federal Trade Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission, FBI and Justice Department.

“L'esprit de RSF” is a new prize created by press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders to honour a UK journalist, media organisation, or NGO, that has demonstrated exceptional courage, achieved tremendous impact, or shown independence in the face of significant pressure.

Katharine Viner, editor-in-chief of Guardian News & Media, said “Carole’s reporting has been brilliant and brave. It shows the importance of journalism which holds the powerful to account - whether in Westminster, Washington or in Silicon Valley. On behalf of Carole's colleagues at the Guardian and Observer, we are delighted to see her receive this award.”

Paul Webster, editor of The Observer, said “Carole’s persistence - in the face of legal threats and a tidal wave of trolling and abuse by those she is reporting on - has been remarkable. Her investigations have shone a light on one of the most important issues of our time: the emerging threat to our democratic processes. I congratulate her on this special award from Reporters Without Borders, which is thoroughly deserved.”

Rebecca Vincent, RSF UK Bureau Director said "The jury overwhelmingly voted for Carole Cadwalladr, who truly represents the spirit of RSF in the UK. Her reporting on interference in the Brexit campaign here in the UK and the Trump campaign in the US has underscored the vital importance of our democratic institutions, and the need to protect them - including the media itself. The severe backlash she continues to face is a testament to the impact of her reporting, and we are proud to honour her with this special new award."