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Cracking Corporate Corruption at Wal-Mart: Self-guided training

Pulitzer Prize for Public Service medalPulitzer winners David Barstow and Alejandra Xanic von Bertrab headline this session at the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference: Cracking Corporate Corruption at Wal-Mart, on June 21, 2013.

The duo’s investigation into corruption in the world’s biggest retailer won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting.

Barstow’s initial story on how Wal-Mart covered up its use of bribery to fuel its Mexican expansion (PDF) also won the 2012 Barlett & Steele Award for Investigative Business Journalism.


David Barstow, a senior writer at The New York Times, is the winner of three Pulitzer Prizes. In 2013, he and Alejandra Xanic von Bertrab were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for “Wal-Mart Abroad,’’ a series that exposed Wal-Mart’s aggressive use of bribery to fuel its rapid expansion in Mexico.

In 2004, he and Lowell Bergman were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for articles about employers who committed egregious work place-safety violations that killed or injured hundreds of American workers. Before joining the Times in 1999, he was a reporter for The St. Petersburg Times in Florida, where he was a finalist for three Pulitzer Prizes.

Alejandra Xanic von Bertrab is a freelance journalist who shared the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting with Barstow. Xanic, as she’s known to colleagues, has worked for two decades as a reporter in Mexico. As a reporter with Siglo 21 newspaper in Guadalajara, she looked into the causes of a gasoline-leak explosion that destroyed several kilometers of homes. As a member of the paper’s investigative unit, she worked on stories ranging from drug trafficking to state corruption.


Leonard Downie Jr. is vice president at large of The Washington Post, where he was executive editor from 1991 to 2008. He is also the Weil Family Professor of Journalism at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

As deputy metro editor from 1972 to 1974, Downie helped supervise the Post’s Watergate coverage. He also oversaw the newspaper’s coverage of every national election from 1984 through 2008. During his 17 years as executive editor, The Washington Post won 25 Pulitzer prizes.

More on the Award-Winning Wal-Mart investigation:

  • The stories that won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting:
  1. Vast Mexico bribery case hushed up by Wal-Mart after top-level struggle (PDF)
  2. The bribery aisle: How Wal-Mart used payoffs to get its way in Mexico (PDF)
  • Session recordings

  • Instructors

    David Barstow
    David Barstow was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting in 2009 for “Message Machine,’’ his series about the Pentagon’s hidden campaign to influence news coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Alejandra Xanic von BertabAs a reporter in Mexico City, Alejandra Xanic von Bertrab worked for the Mexican edition of Gabriel García Marquez's magazine, Cambio, and was an editor for four years at the business biweekly, Expansion. In 2010 and 2011, Xanic was part of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists team that investigated big tobacco’s global lobbying strategies.

    Len Downie During his 44 years in the Post newsroom, Len Downie was also an investigative reporter, editor on the local and national news staffs, London correspondent, and, from 1984 to 1991, managing editor under then-executive editor Ben Bradlee.

  • Additional resources

About the Author

The Reynolds Center, created through generous grants from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation of Las Vegas and operated by ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is dedicated to improving the quality of business and economics coverage through training programs for business reporters and editors.

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