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A Dangerous Business: An Investigation Into One of America’s Most Hazardous Employers

The most successful and most honored of our projects to date is a 2003 joint project involving The New York Times, PBS FRONTLINE and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that exposed worker death and dismemberment at an Alabama iron pipe company. 

It all started in a class at Berkeley Journalism. Following up on a tip provided by Prof. Lowell Bergman, James Sandler (’03) and a Berkeley undergraduate student Robin Stein—who was auditing the class— developed the story to a point where The New York Times then hired Sandler and Stein to work directly with the paper, including one of its star investigative reporters David Barstow.


The story drew the attention of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Department of Justice. Working with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) criminal investigators and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspectors, then-section head David Uhlmann guided a nationwide investigation that led to the prosecution of five different McWane facilities in four federal jurisdictions. McWane was fined $8 million for dozens of safety and environmental crimes at its New Jersey plant, Atlantic States Cast Iron Pipe Company. Four of the plant's managers received prison sentences ranging from 6 months to 70 months. The case was one of several lawsuits brought by federal prosecutors in a multi-state investigation that began in 2003 into McWane's operations.


“A Dangerous Business” is the only winner of the Pulitzer Prize to also be acknowledged with every major award in broadcasting:  the 2004 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award/Silver Baton, the 2004 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, the 2003 George Foster Peabody Award, and the 2003 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for Investigative Network Television.

Production Staff & Crew

David Barstow

Reporter – faculty/lecturer

Lowell Bergman ( 2025 )

Reporter/Producer – faculty/lecturer

James Sandler ( 2003 )