Firestone and the Warlord, FRONTLINE and ProPublica‘s 2014 investigation revealing the relationship between the iconic American tire company Firestone and the infamous Liberian warlord Charles Taylor, has won an IRE Award.
“This reporting collaboration told a gripping story of how Firestone managed to continue operating during the brutal Liberian civil war, a tale informed by diplomatic cables, court documents and accounts from Americans who ran a rubber plantation as Liberia descended into chaos,” the IRE judges wrote in a statement announcing this year’s winners.
Told as both a documentary film and an interactive text story, the Firestone and the Warlord investigation spanned seven years and unearthed 44 lbs. of previously unreported court documents.
It found that Firestone agreed to pay millions of dollars to Taylor in exchange for being able to operate in Liberia — money that, in Taylor’s own words, provided the “financial assistance that we needed for the revolution” — and uncovered how Taylor turned the company’s plantation into a rebel base that he used to wage a bloody civil war.
The judges praised Firestone and the Warlord, which was honored in the “Multiplatform – Large” investigations category, as “a concise history of a disturbing episode that the public largely overlooked, and a rare window into the interrelationships of corporations that supply our consumer goods and regimes linked to crimes against humanity.”