Marbin Miller is a graduate of Florida State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
As leader of The Miami Herald's Investigative Reporting Team for Innocents Lost, Marbin Miller and colleague Audra D.S. Burch investigated the circumstances of the deaths of 477 children in the care of Florida’s DCF for a six-year period from Jan. 1, 2008 to Dec. 31, 2013.
The series "chronicles the sad procession of children who died, often violently, after the Florida Department of Children and Families had been warned, often repeatedly, that they or their siblings could be in danger." Their project produced an extensive searchable database that details the children's cases including detail about their circumstances and the systemic failures that led to their deaths. The series is cited as the precipitating factor for the most extensive overhaul of child welfare laws in the history of the state.
According to the Neiman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, "the deaths occurred as Florida reduced the number of children in foster care at the same time it cut services for troubled families."
The Poynter Institute for Media Studies also discussed the series at length on its website.
Marbin Miller has received numerous awards during her career. The University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism awarded Marbin Miller and Burch the 2015 Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting for "Innocents Lost". It carries a $35,000 prize.
In the summer of 2015, Marbin Miller and Burch won numerous accolades, including the first Gene Miller Voice of Freedom Award presented by the Florida Action Committee to recognize great journalism in civil liberties. Gene Miller was a legendary writer and editor at the Miami Herald and the Washington Post who won two Pulitzers.
The reporters won the James Batten Award for Public Service for "Innocents Lost" with the judges commenting that “The Miami Herald’s ‘Innocents Lost,’ an investigation of the state’s chronic failure to protect children from abuse, was simply stunning. It was exhaustively reported and expertly written, with compelling photos and graphics." The judge further noted that the series was "watchdog journalism at its absolute best.”
On April 11, 2016, Marbin Miller and Burch received the 30th Annual Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Award. and a few months later, the 2016 Paul Hansell Award for Distinguished Achievement in Florida Journalism, the highest award given by the Florida Society of News Editors. The award cited the body of work that included “Bitter Pill,” a series which examined how frail and medically complex children were purged from a taxpayer funded healthcare program to save money.
In July 2016, Marbin Miller won the First Amendment Foundation Freedom of Information Award given by the Florida Society of Professional Journalists.
Marbin Miller is a two-time recipient of the NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America's Heywood Broun Award. For her strategic use of public records to expose neglect in the state’s social services, she received the Society of Professional Journalists' Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award.
Two organizations affiliated with Harvard University also gave awards to "Innocents Lost": Marbin Miller and Burch received the $25,000 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting from Harvard's Shorenstein Center and the $20,000 Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism from the Nieman Foundation for Journalism. The Worth Bingham Prize announcement also cited the Miami Herald's Tallahassee bureau chief Mary Ellen Klas; data visualization specialist Lazaro Gamio; photographer and videographer Emily Michot; artist/page designer Ana Lense Larrauri and page designer Kara Dapena.
"Innocents Lost" won the Knight Award for Public Service by the Online News Association as well as the Associated Press Managing Editors' 45th Annual Public Service Award and the contest's Best of Show Award. In the press release, the Associated Press noted, "The death of a child is tragic, but the deaths of more than 500 children in state care is a tragedy of epic proportions and criminal," the judges said in honoring the paper. "The depth of reporting allowed for such strong writing that a reader would be compelled to keep reading. And the government would be compelled to act, as it has... This is the epitome of public service reporting."
In July 2015, "Innocents Lost" won the Gold Medal for Public Service, the top honor in the Florida Society of News Editors (FSNE) journalism contest. Among newspapers with a circulation of 125,000 or more in the FSNE, Burch and Marbin Miller finished first in the category of Community Leadership.
Along with two other reporters, Michael Sallah and Rob Barry, Marbin Miller was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for the Miami Herald series, "Neglected to Death", for the project's exposure of deadly abuses and lax state oversight in Florida's assisted living facilities for the elderly and mentally ill that resulted in the closure of dangerous homes, punishment of violators and creation of tougher laws and regulations."
List of awards for "Innocents Lost" printed in the Miami Herald.