Software engineer Palani Kumanan of Wall Street Journal wins Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting

Kumanan is an alum of PSG College of Technology in Coimbatore.

By Raif Karerat

WASHINGTON, DC: An Indian American software engineer at the Wall Street Journal Palani Kumanan has won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting after authoring a series of articles that exposed systematic corruption within the Medicare complex.

The massive investigative project, titled “Medicare Unmasked,” mined government data and eventually led to Congressional inquiries and criminal prosecutions.

Kumanan, a graduate of the PSG College of Technology in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, developed the interactive database on Medicare billing that was used to analyze government payments made to over 880,000 medical service providers, including doctors and hospitals, reported Nasdaq’s news team.

He shared the prestigious award with members of the Journal’s graphics team: Martin Burch, Chris Canipe, Madeline Farbman, Jon Keegan and Stuart Thompson.

“This was an important piece of work that has shed light on information Washington wanted to keep hidden from Americans about how this vast government program is distorted by fraud and waste,” said Gerard Baker, WSJ’s editor-in-chief, in a note to the paper’s staff. “Our reporting has sparked congressional inquiries and criminal charges and changed public attitudes towards Medicare.”

With the advent of the digital age, coding and software applications are becoming essential journalism tools and academic institutions have begun incorporating them into their journalism curriculums. Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, for example, has been begun offering a dual-degree program in journalism and computer science, noted Microfinance Monitor.

Other Indian-origin authors of to win recent Pulitzers include Vijay Seshadri, who won last year for his poetry collection, “3 Sections,” the Journal’s Geeta Anand for her reports on corporate scandals in 2003, and Siddhartha Mukherjee — a doctor and researcher who wrote the nonfiction “Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer,” in 2011.

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