2007 Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism
Winners of the 13th Annual Contest
The Philadelphia Inquirer's thorough documentation of a city agency's neglect of children it was charged with protecting, Dateline NBC’s compelling profile of a first-year teacher, and The Washington Post's creative use of multimedia to enrich racial dialogue were among the winning entries in the 2007 Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism. Other news organizations taking top honors in the 13th annual contest were Los Angeles Times/West Magazine, The Seattle Times, MSNBC, Chicago Public Radio, The Sacramento Bee, The Roanoke Times, the Belleville (Ill.) News-Democrat, The Hartford Courant, KRIV-TV/Houston, Anchorage Daily News, San Francisco Chronicle and The Independent Weekly in Durham, N.C.
Project or Series: Over 200,000 circulation
Project or Series: Under 200,000 circulation
With the national immigration debate as her springboard, reporter Beth Macy expertly hones in on Hispanic immigrants opening Mexican restaurants, working the fields, hanging drywall and filling classrooms in southwestern Virginia’s Roanoke Valley. She presents many faces and dimensions of a growing population that is still largely invisible in the United States yet bound – by relationships, remittances and dreams – to homelands far away.
Runner-Up: "Lessons in Waste," The Bergen Record
A four-month investigation into fraud and waste in New Jersey’s preschool program – the most ambitious and expensive in the nation – demonstrates masterful dissection of records, crowned with skilled storytelling.
The series explores the benefits and barriers in schooling nearly 11,000 children of migrant farm laborers in San Joaquin County. It raises key questions and provides some solutions about how to stabilize children’s lives and ensure education.
Honorable Mention: "Pain & Fire," Des Moines Register
The gripping narrative shows how generations of sexual abuse sparked a teenage girl’s rage and desire for revenge.
Vivid storytelling and a seven-part cliffhanger format underscore the drama that unfolds when a commercial fishing-boat accident threatens the life of Rose Bard and her unborn child.
The series presents a fresh perspective on the plight of women prisoners by disclosing the alarming use of shackling during childbirth; Wisconsin subsequently ended the practice.
With stories of personal tragedy at its core, The Post-Star's project explores the impact of suicide on family and community; it provides a public service by compiling resource information and providing a forum for discussion.
Single Article: Over 200,000 circulation
Exhaustive investigation and skilled storytelling combine in a devastating account of systemic problems within Washington’s child welfare system. The story goes beyond one terrible anecdote, giving sweep and lasting impact. It’s an increasingly rare example of a newspaper investing brawn and real resources in its watchdog role.
The reporter dug deep into a difficult-to-access story of vulnerable children being passed among a little-known network of parents.
This piece stands out for its remarkable narrative about a mother’s agonizing decision to give birth to a terminally ill child.
Single Article: Under 200,000 circulation
Winner: "From Pain, Family," The Hartford Courant
This piece won the Single Story 75,000-199,999 category, which has since been merged with the Single Story under 75,000 category to form the Single Story under 200,000 circulation category.
With ongoing debates over the definition of family, Brown and Hamilton offer timely and rare insights into same-sex relationships forged out of painful experiences instead of biological orientation. Thorough reporting addresses controversy head on, drawing out their sometimes wary sources and weaving in expert opinion. Their beautiful writing makes this a fully compelling read.
Winner: "Love, in Translation," Anchorage Daily News
By Julia O'Malley
This piece won the Single Story under 75,000 category, which has since been merged with the Single Story 75,000-199,999 category to form the Single Story under 200,000 circulation category.
The reporter sensitively conveys a young woman's heavy burdens in interpreting U.S. culture and the English language for her Laotian parents. Through her attentive, even-handed reporting, O'Malley gained the confidence of the family and of the immigrant community; her story buttresses their appeal for more official interpreters. The piece exemplifies the paper’s commitment to covering quiet but important cultural changes.
This piece was the runner-up in the Single Story 75,000-199,999 category, which has since been merged with the Single Story under 75,000 category to form the Single Story under 200,000 circulation category.
Eloquent, empathetic writing characterizes this fresh look at a family’s struggles with poverty amid plenty.
This piece was the runner-up in the Single Story under 75,000 category, which has since been merged with the Single Story 75,000-199,999 category to form the Single Story under 200,000 circulation category.
The piece raises disturbing questions about the deaths of three newborns and Highland Hospital's rush to expand its obstetrics program; it also sheds light on the harsh economic realities that drive health care decisions and how these affect communities.
This piece was an honorable mention in the Single Story 75,000-199,999 category, which has since been merged with the Single Story under 75,000 category to form the Single Story under 200,000 circulation category.
This smart, important piece explores the cycle of violence while paying attention to social policy choices, such as budget cutbacks and misplaced spending priorities.
This piece was an honorable mention in the Single Story under 75,000 category, which has since been merged with the Single Story 75,000-199,999 category to form the Single Story under 200,000 circulation category.
In this provocative story, reporter Hawryluk thoroughly explores the ethical quandaries that ensnare families struggling to cope with profoundly disabled children.
Winner: "Foster Care editorials," San Francisco Chronicle
This well-argued set of editorials details how the state and federal government reneged on a promise to support foster kids striving to attend college and live independently. The wake-up campaign got results: It convinced Gov. Schwarzenegger and the Legislature to significantly increase investments in the state’s foster care system.
Runner-Up: "Juvenile Injustice," The Indianapolis Star
In-depth reporting shows how dysfunction in the state’s juvenile justice detention system sets back troubled kids; it also helps readers see how they can help.
Honorable Mention: "Survivors’ Prayer and other columns," Greensboro News & Record
Ahern uses old-fashioned shoe leather to immerse herself in her community and writes eloquently about public policies that sometimes worsen situations for already-disadvantaged individuals.
McGray finds a creative, compelling and fresh angle in the immigration debate. “The Invisibles” documents the lonely underground community of illegal immigrant students in the University of California system. Diligent reporting and empathetic writing produces a rare look at a group of high-achievers with a bleak future: Despite their academic accomplishments, the students’ lack of documentation destroys opportunities post-graduation.
The reporter conveys the complexities involving Derrick Steele’s struggles to overcome addictions to find meaningful, legal work through a Durham jobs program. Secret also shows how the program falters through lack of funding and commitment, leaving participants unsteady and on the edge.
Shapiro offers a disturbing glimpse inside a deportation system that rips families apart and treats immigrants – some of whom might be U.S. citizens – as if they were convicted criminals.
Fenske’s clear-eyed probe of a school devoted to homeless children reveals its failure to provide them with a good education; she constructed a convincing case for closing it.
Renée C. Byer presents a window into the emotional, physical and financial toll that cancer takes on young victims and their loved ones. The sheer depth, quality and longevity of this sustained effort sets it apart, as Byer followed one mother throughout the final year of her son’s life and captured moments of exaltation, fear and finally despair. Her piece bears witness to the unfolding drama of a child’s life.
In a staccato, portrait-driven approach, April Saul gives a face and a story to every child killed by guns in the Philadelphia area in 2006; as reader and legislative response to the project attests, these images cannot be ignored.
Photographs of homeless families living on the beach detail the plight of those pushed from their homes by rising housing costs.
This project makes an important contribution to racial dialogue in our nation’s capital, integrating a huge amount of material into an attractive and navigable interface that encourages the visitor to sample, browse and dig deep. The site offers users a panoply of choices including video presentations, audio narratives and opinion blogs.
This informative, poignant package tracks and uncovers many of the reasons behind Oakland’s escalating homicide rate.
This impressive entry, replete with photo galleries and maps, reveals how waste from Cold War-era uranium mines contaminated parts of the Navajo Nation.
This yearlong project provides a powerful public service, accomplished with depth, breadth and creativity. The series takes a broad look at education but drills into issues and individual stories that relate to policy and practice, covering a spectrum of the community. In addition to the radio presentations, the production team convened community outreach meetings, developed a mentorship program for rookie reporters and launched an interactive Web site – complete with blogs, essays and student artwork. (The above link is to Chicago Public Radio’s 2006 Web site, which has since been redesigned. Please visit the current site.)
A set of excellent, rigorous and beautifully told stories about special education capture the intersection of education, policy and family.
This six-part series about immigrant students learning English in the California public school system is deeply informative, well written and beautifully produced.
The series about the country's 42 million 16- to 25-year-olds is rich and moving – and ultimately, uplifting and hopeful.
Video: Short Form
Winner: "Special Ed--Broken Promise?" KRIV-TV
KRIV did a masterful job telling a story that illustrates the tension between what special education children need and what school systems are often willing to provide – a topic routinely dismissed as "too hard to tell." The team took on a Texas school system and reported the difficulty faced by some parents who sought a “free and appropriate” education for children who need special education. Eschewing the glitz or flash of a “special report,” KRIV showed enterprise in reporting on American education.
WATE’s exploration of the deplorable living conditions of a trailer park in Kentucky revealed the trailer park’s unfathomable ‘rent to own’ contracts and examined the role of the owners, city and lawmakers to ensure improvements.
This report provides a solid medical explanation of the type of leukemia 4-year-old Tara Koon battled and explains the immense significance of clinical trials, in which more than half of child cancer patients are treated.
Video: Long Form
This piece shows the impact of teachers such as Ms. Groves, whose devotion to underprivileged students improves their chances for productive futures. It took impressive commitment for Dateline to follow this young, relatively untrained educator for an entire school year. The one-hour program captures the struggles facing teachers and students alike, yet maintains a sense of optimism about the state of education in our country.
Stories about foster children are usually predictable in their storylines, but this documentary takes the unusual step of looking inside the courtrooms that rule the children’s lives. The producers provide a thorough and unflinching portrait of families involved in foster care. Happy endings seem elusive, but this production allows outsiders to perhaps understand why.