Photography by Ryan Pfluger at Bernstein’s home in Brooklyn on October 18, 2015. Hair and makeup: Angela DiCarlo.
In order to win a 2015 Peabody Award for their reporting on the Bridgegate scandal (in which associates of governor Chris Christie colluded with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to punish an uncooperative mayor by closing the world’s busiest road bridge), longtime New York public radio reporter Andrea Bernstein (left), her co-reporter Matt Katz, and their editor, Nancy Solomon (right), pored over 15,000 pages of documents — multiple times. The closures were the tip of an iceberg built on briberies and kickbacks. “This is much more important than a sex scandal about a politician because it’s an abuse-of-power story,” says Solomon, “about how New Jersey’s most powerful men used the reins of government to make money and promote the governor’s career.” For Bernstein, who married her partner of 28 years in 2015, the story is a vindication of classic shoe-leather journalism. “Most newspapers of midsize cities have closed their investigative reporting units, and most radio newsrooms are too small, because it’very time-intensive,” she says. “WNYC is big enough but experimental enough for the newsroom to let us do that.”