Urbina in 2014
|Born||March 29, 1972|
|Alma mater||Georgetown University|
|Organization||The New York Times|
Ian Urbina (born March 29, 1972) is an investigative reporter for The New York Times based in the Washington Bureau. His investigations most often focus on worker safety and the environment. He has received a Pulitzer, a Polk, as well as being nominated for an Emmy. Several of his stories have been made into feature films. His most recent and ongoing series, "The Outlaw Ocean", explores lawlessness on the high seas.
Education and early career
Before joining The New York Times in 2003, Urbina was in a doctoral program in history and anthropology at the University of Chicago, where he specialized on Cuba. As a Fulbright scholar he did his doctoral dissertation research in Havana.
The New York Times
Urbina was initially a reporter on the Times' Metro desk. In 2005, Urbina moved to the Times' national desk to become its Mid-Atlantic Bureau chief, where he covered West Virginia coal mining disasters, the Gulf oil spill, the Virginia Tech shootings and numerous other breaking stories. He has also written extensively on criminal justice issues, including stories about the use of prisoners for pharmaceutical experiments, immigrant detainees working as unpaid workers, solitary confinement in immigration detention facilities, and the dependence of the U.S. Defense Department on prison labor. He became a senior investigative reporter for the National Desk in 2010, where he wrote a series in 2011, Drilling Down, about the oil and gas industry and fracking.
On worker safety, in 2013, he wrote a story about longterm exposure to hazardous chemicals and the federal agency, O.S.H.A., which is responsible for protecting against these workplace threats. For the New York Times Magazine, he wrote in 2014 a piece called "The Secret Life of Passwords", about the anecdotes and emotions hidden in everyday web-user's "secure" passwords.
In 2015, Urbina wrote a series called "The Outlaw Ocean", about lawlessness on the high seas. To report the stories, Urbina traveled through Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, much of that time spent on fishing ships, chronicling a diversity of crimes offshore, including the killing of stowaways, sea slavery, intentional dumping, illegal fishing, the stealing of ships, gun running, stranding of crews, and murder with impunity.
Several of Urbina's investigative pieces have been adapted to film. In interviews, Matt Damon and John Kransinski have said that the idea for their 2012 film Promised Land came partly from the Times investigative series, Drilling Down.
A 2007 Times investigation by Urbina about so-called "mag crews"—traveling groups of teenagers, many of them runaways or from broken homes, who sell magazine subscriptions—was optioned for a 2016 movie, American Honey, directed by Andrea Arnold and starring Shia LaBeouf.
In 2010, Urbina wrote a profile for Vanity Fair magazine on Sam Childers, a former Hells Angels's biker and gun runner, turned born-again Christian preacher, who joined the guerrilla fighters in South Sudan. Urbina traveled with Childers, after he was ostensibly hired to kill a brutal warlord named Joseph Kony, leader of a group called the Lord's Resistance Army. In 2011, Childers' life story became the basis of a movie called "Machine Gun Preacher", starring Gerard Butler. Also, in 2011, Urbina's reporting was part of a story optioned for the film Deepwater Horizon with Mark Wahlberg.
In 2015, Leonardo DiCaprio, Netflix and Misher Films bought the movie rights for The Outlaw Ocean series in The New York Times written by Urbina. They intend to make a feature film. They also bought the movie rights for the book by the same name being written by Urbina and to be published by Alfred A. Knopf.
- Urbina was a member of the team of reporters that wrote a series in 2006 about diabetes, which received a public service award from the Society of Professional Journalists’ New York City chapter and a Society of Silurians award for science health reporting. The series was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
- In 2008 Urbina was also a member of the team of reporters that broke the story about then-New York Governor, Eliot Spitzer and his use of prostitutes, a series of stories for which the Times won a Pulitzer in 2009.
- In 2010, Urbina wrote a series called "Running in the Shadows" which focused on the sexual trafficking of minors and the growing number of young runaways in the United States. This series received the New York Press Club’s award for feature reporting.
- In 2011, Urbina delivered the annual Kops Freedom of the Press lecture at Cornell University titled "Investigating the Natural Gas Drilling Boom" (video) Drilling Down also received a Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), "Best in Business" award.
- In 2014, his story about OSHA and worker exposure to Hazardous chemicals was a finalist in the Explanatory category for the Loeb Award. He was also on the Times team covering the death of thousands of garment workers in Bangladesh that was also a finalist for a Loeb that year in the international reporting category.
- In July, 2015, Urbina's "The Secret Life of Passwords" was nominated for an Emmy.
- In 2016, Urbina's series called The Outlaw Ocean won various journalism awards, including the George Polk Award for Foreign Reporting, The Maritime Foundation's Desmond Wettern Media Award for Best Journalistic Contribution, The Sigma Delta Chi Award for Foreign Correspondence from the Society of Professional Journalists, The Peter Benchley Ocean Award for Media Excellence, The Best in Business Award for Feature Writing from the Society of Business Editors and Writers, and The Human Rights Press Award Online English Merit Award. The Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) also awarded the series a prize in the Excellence in Digital News category, and an honorable mention in the Human Rights Reporting category. Photos from the series won The National Press Photographers Association's 2016 Award for Best Of Photojournalism Multimedia, and The Photojournalism/Documentary Award from Photo District News (PDN). The series' videos won the National Edward R. Murrow Award for News Series. The series was also a finalist for The Scripps Howard Award in Public Service Reporting, The Gerald Loeb Award in International reporting, and The Michael Kelly Award. The series won an honorable mention for TRACE International's Prize for Investigative Reporting for "Maritime 'Repo Men': A last resort for stolen ships", and won an honorable mention for The Anthony Lewis Prize for Exceptional Rule of Law Journalism given by the World Justice Project.
Urbina currently lives in the Washington DC area with his family. As a student at St Albans and at Georgetown Urbina was an accomplished long-distance runner. He has a degree in history from Georgetown University, and a degree in anthropology and history from the University of Chicago. His father is Judge Ricardo M. Urbina, who was also a collegiate runner and the first Latino on the federal bench in DC.
- "The University of Chicago". Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellows. The University of Chicago. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
- "WNYC - People - Ian Urbina". WNYC. WNYC.org. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
- "Natural Gas Drilling and the Environment". CSPAN. CSPAN. 2011-03-04. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
- "Panel Suggests Using Inmates in Drug Trials". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
- "Using Jailed Migrants as a Pool of Cheap Labor". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
- "Colbert Report - The Word - Debt or Prison". Comedy Central. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
- "Immigrants Held in Solitary Cells, Often for Weeks". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
- "Stars and Stripes" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
- McKibben, Bill (2012-03-08). "Why Not Frack?". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 27 September 2015. McKibben wrote: "In fact, the most remarkable work on the subject has been done by Ian Urbina, a New York Times journalist, and by the rebel filmmaker Josh Fox. Urbina’s stories, which seem likely to win a Pulitzer, demonstrate why we can’t do without serious newspapers. Beginning last spring, he documented the health risks, lax regulation, industry overstatement, and general corruption that have surrounded the boom."
- Petit, Charlie. "New York Times Science Times". Knight Science Journalism at MIT. MIT. Archived from the original on June 2, 2012. Retrieved 27 September 2015.CS1 maint: Unfit url (link) Petit wrote: "From here, it appears that the Times and Mr. Urbina are calmly saying we should learn a lesson from the dot-com bubble and the housing bubble, suggesting investers and regulators and gov't planners step with care and not be blinkered by all the money that's pouring in."
- Kennedy, Robert F. (2011-10-20). "The Fracking Industry's War on The New York Times and the Truth". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
- Starkman, Dean. "Three things to like about the Times OSHA exposé". Columbia Journalism Review. Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 27 September 2015. The Columbia Journalism Review called the story a "magisterial probe", and "without doubt a great example of agenda-setting public-interest reporting of a kind that, sad to say, is becoming increasingly scarce among mainstream business news outlets."
- Urbina, Ian (2014-11-23). "The Secret Life of Passwords". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved 2018-09-22.
- Murphy, Tim. "Deep Dive". The University of Chicago Magazine. The University of Chicago. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
- Torrence, Marc. "Murder, Slavery, A Harrowing Chase: Behind the Journalism Series That's Changing the Oceans". Patch.com. Patch Media. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
- Damanski, Maria. "Quick Take: Growing Momentum to Fight Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing". Talk. Nature.org. Retrieved 27 September 2015. Damanski wrote: "If you haven’t read it, it’s a dramatic exposé about the chronic and widespread violence, oppression and lawlessness that exists out on the open ocean. In the series, Urbina shines an important spotlight on the magnitude of challenges facing ocean management and the need for governments to work together. The last in the series, The Longest Chase, gives us a glimpse into the $10 billion-per-year illegal fishing trade “that is thriving as improved technology has enabled fishing vessels to plunder the oceans with greater efficiency.”
- Ryan, Chris (2015-07-20). "'True Detective,' Season 2, Episode 5: 'Other Lives'". Grantland. Retrieved 27 September 2015. Ryan writes, in reference to "The Outlaw Ocean": "The web of holding companies and money; the apathetic, complicit, or handcuffed law-enforcement agencies and bodies of government; and the powerful men who escape any kind of justice — Urbina’s story has all the makings of a True Detective season."
- "Long Island University Announces 67th Annual George Polk Awards In Journalism". PR Newswire. PR Newswire. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
- Karpel, Ari (2013-01-02). "Matt Damon and John Krasinski on making "Promised Land," A Non-Message Message Movie". Fast Company. Retrieved 27 September 2015. Karpel wrote: "After a moment considering the salmon industry, the pair settled on making a movie about hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking. Krasinski was inspired in part by a series of stories in The New York Times, called Drilling Down. Thus, Promised Land, written by and starring Damon and Krasinski, and directed by Gus Van Sant, was born."
- Rooney, David (14 May 2016). "The Hollywood Reporter". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
- Manly, Lorne (22 September 2016). "The New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
- "The Tracking Board". The Tracking Board. 20 June 2016. Retrieved 10 November 2016.
- Shafir, Doree (2007-04-17). "Bill Keller: Why is this Pulitzer different from all other prizes?". Gawker. Archived from the original on 2 July 2015. Retrieved 27 September 2015. "This year we had three Pulitzer finalists — two of them emanating from that engine of excellence known as the Metro Desk. In the explanatory category, The NYT Staff was a finalist for our national wake-up call on the epidemic of diabetes. Sonny Kleinfield, Richard Perez-Pena, Marc Santora and Ian Urbina kicked off the year with an eye-opening series, and throughout the year we had contributions from other departments, accompanied by great video narratives and slide shows that brought the problem vividly to life."
- "Cornellcast". American Studies Program, College of Arts and Sciences. Cornell University. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
- "Gerald Loeb Awards, 2014 Finalists". UCLA Anderson School of Management. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
- "The New York Times Nominated For Eight News and Documentary Emmy Awards". NYTCO. The New York Times. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
- "Long Island University Announces 67th Annual George Polk Awards In Journalism". Long Island University. February 14, 2016. Retrieved 24 May 2016. "The reporting also took readers aboard a ship operated by environmental activists in the culmination of a 10,000-mile chase leading to the sinking of a notorious pirate trawler that had eluded Interpol and other authorities for a decade. The series spurred Congressional hearings and testimony, class-action litigation against the seafood industry, and, abroad, a criminal investigation and convictions."
- "New York Times reporter Ian Urbina lands 'best maritime journalism contribution in 2016'". Maritime Foundation. October 27, 2016. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
- "Maritime Media Awards 2016: Ian Urbina, The New York Times". Maritime Foundation. October 27, 2016. Retrieved 10 November 2016.
- "2015 SIGMA DELTA CHI AWARD HONOREES". www.spj.org. Society of Professional Journalists. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
- "Ian Urbina | Peter Benchley Ocean Awards". peterbenchleyoceanawards.org. Retrieved 24 May 2016. "Urbina’s riveting series has generated a high-level of public interest, a NYTimes editorial call for action, and opened the doors for discussion of new regulatory and law-enforcement approaches at the national and international policy-making levels."
- "2015 Best in Business Honoree List « SABEW". sabew.org. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
- "2015 HRPA winners – English version | Human Rights Press Awards". humanrightspressawards.org. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
- "SOPA 2016 Award Winners".
- "NPPA Best Of Photojournalism Multimedia Category Winners Announced | NPPA". nppa.org. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
- "PDN Photo Annual 2016". PDN 2016 Photo Annual. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
- "National Edward R. Murrow 2016 Award Winners".
- Company, The E.W. Scripps. "Scripps Howard Foundation announces winners of 2015 Scripps Howard Awards". www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
- "2016 Gerald Loeb Award Finalists". Retrieved 9 July 2016.
- "The Michael Kelly Award". www.kellyaward.com. Retrieved 24 May 2016. "Urbina’s series was brilliantly conceived and expertly told. “This is why we need newspapers,” one reader wrote. Added The Wall Street Journal: “incredible, readable, riveting series.”"
- "TRACE International Prizes for Investigative Reporting". Retrieved 21 July 2016.
- Sonner, Tim (1989-09-28). "Free from pain, St. Albans' Urbina regains momentum". The Washington Post. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
- Graber, Michael (1994-11-24). "Hoyas men chase 1st National Championship". The Washington Post. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
- "Author Biography". Macmillan. Macmillan Publishers. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
- Wilber, Del Quentin (2011-06-01). "Judge who had "no passion for punishment" retires after 31 years". The Washington Post. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
- Gonzalez, Charlie. "TRIBUTE TO HONORABLE RICARDO M. URBINA". Scout - Sunlight Foundation. Sunlight Foundation. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
- Urbina's website
- Urbina's work referenced above:
- Urbina, Ian. "In the Treatment of Diabetes, Success Often Does Not Pay", The New York Times, 2006-01-11.
- Urbina, Ian. "Virginia Tech Struggles to Recover From Shootings", The New York Times, 2007-04-23.
- Urbina, Ian. "For an Aspiring Singer, a Harsher Spotlight", The New York Times, 2008-03-13
- Urbina, Ian. "Running in the Shadows", The New York Times, 2009-10-26.
- Urbina, Ian. "No Survivors Found After West Virginia Mine Disaster", The New York Times, 2010-04-09.
- Urbina, Ian. "In Gulf, It Was Unclear Who Was in Charge of Rig", The New York Times, 2010-06-05.
- Urbina, Ian. Drilling Down, The New York Times, 2012-05-15.
- Urbina, Ian. "As OSHA Emphasizes Safety, Long-Term Health Risks Fester", The New York Times, 2013-03-31.
- Urbina, Ian. The Secret Life of Passwords, The New York Times Magazine, 2014-11-19.
- Urbina, Ian. The Outlaw Ocean, The New York Times, 2015-07-24.
- New York Times, Author Listing
- Ian Urbina Updates, Facebook "fan" group
- "Life's Little Annoyances: True Tales of People Who Just Can't Take It Anymore", Ian Urbina, 2005, Times Books.
- Author listings: Harper's Magazine, Middle East Research and Information Project, The Village Voice, and The Nation
- Additional writings: "In the Good Old Wallow Time", The Baffler, November 2002; "Ground Shifting Under Mullahs", The Los Angeles Times, 12/2/2002
- 2016 movie "American Honey", optioned from Urbina's article "For Youths, a Grim Tour on Magazine Crews", The New York Times, 2007-02-21.
- 2011 movie "Machine Gun Preacher", which partly draws from Urbina's article "Get Kony" in Vanity Fair.
- Appearances on C-SPAN