The Philadelphia Daily News won its first ever Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting in 2010. The Tainted Justice series exposed extensive wrongdoings by narcotics officers in the city police department.
Out this month, reporters Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker’s book, “Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love,” was compiled while the parent newspapers’ resources and reach were on the wane.
While giving a behind-the-scenes look at the work that went into the series, Laker and Ruderman inject themselves as characters in the story — and they don’t always paint a perfect picture.
“There are several characters in the book that we illustrated, we tried to, very clearly,” says Laker. “Like our editor, Gar Joseph, our editor Michael Days, all the drug dealers, Benny, who’s the drug informant, the cops, and so because we tried to describe their personalities and characteristics, we thought it was only fair that we shared our own.”
Laker and Ruderman lament that, despite the revelations in the Tainted Justice series, corruption persists among the ranks of Philadelphia’s police. “There’s still police officers getting arrested and getting into trouble,” says Ruderman. “It’s like the same thing over and over again, so it’s really disheartening that it seems like nothing changes.”
Laker and Ruderman will speak at the Central Free Library of Philadelphia Monday, March 18.