This important story is the result of unusual initiative, determination and bravery on the part of a journalist. Most Americans probably don’t know that their government deports tens of thousands of unaccompanied Mexican children each year, and even fewer know what happens when those children reach Mexico. The Texas Observer traces the path of deported children to dangerous Mexican border cities, finding that many of them end up in the streets. Others try to reunite with their parents by attempting the hazardous and illegal border crossing, and some are even kidnapped and held for ransom. By taking readers on the hunt through first-person accounts of what she sees and hears, the writer enables us to feel the atmosphere of fear, incompetence, desperation and duplicity.
Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman delve into academic research to address how schools devote curriculum to improving the minds, souls and creative spirits of young people. Until the authors decided to explore this research, it was mostly inaccessible to the masses. “The Creativity Crisis” could be one of those policy pebbles, now tossed into the pond, that has the potential to make a major and important ripple. Ultimately it could change the conversation about how children are educated and the many tools they need to fulfill their full human potential.
This story fulfills one of the most crucial roles in journalism: To look behind the curtain of the hot movement of the day and poke around to see if the hype is justified. While reporters and public officials nationwide have gushed over the Harlem Children’s Zone as the answer to lifting children in impoverished neighborhoods to educational and career success, this story devotes the time, space and intellectual capital to examine if and how HCZ works, and whether the model is replicable. The reporter weaves in-site visits and interviews with unusually sophisticated analysis of data and important context about similar efforts. The result is a thorough and fair assessment that delivers the heft of a report and the readability of a well-written story.
The piece offers a raw and revelatory account of Georgia’s efforts to purge its welfare rolls and put money intended to help the poor toward other programs. That a state could get away with sneakily withdrawing its safety net is both shocking and frightening. Solid reporting, strong writing and a powerful case study provide a fresh look at welfare in a time of economic crisis. Mencimer does a public service by highlighting the issue.
A thoughtful look at the phenomenon of stillbirth. The specific, touching lens helps explore a shift in attitudes toward the tragedy, which the reader learns claims 26,000 babies a year.
A well-reported and powerfully written account of the Washington, D.C., Oak Hill Correctional Facility’s charter school and its efforts to overcome myriad challenges.
Carmichael’s article on Max Blake, a 10-year-old boy with bipolar disorder, is moving and vivid. She didn’t blink or look away from the difficulties faced by Max and his parents: the strain on their marriage, their struggles to love him, the limitations of his future and the degree to which he pushes the limits of what a child can expect from his parents. Carmichael clearly spent the kind of time with Max and his family that enables a reporter to write with insight and close-to-the-ground detail.
Graff exposes a problem that’s global in scope – how Western demand for newborn babies from underdeveloped countries is creating a corrupt international adoption market. It is a difficult and fairly thankless subject to tackle, but this work breaks new ground.
This is the kind of story that makes a reader want to march on Washington. Kors’s powerful reporting shows how some military doctors deny long-term benefits to wounded Iraq War veterans (and their families) by claiming the soldiers had a pre-existing “personality disorder.” Kors worked through the multiple challenges of dealing with the military, getting access to medical records and finding psychiatrists and soldiers willing to talk. First-rate accountability reporting.
A meticulously researched, artfully written story about children who commit sex offenses, and how the behavior modifications commonly used to thwart their abusive impulses may be counterproductive. An original look at an issue that's rarely explored but broadly significant.
This well-documented story chronicles the use of shock therapy on children with a wide range of mental health issues. Treatment of children in this facility is jolting – to their bodies and our conscience – but the writing avoids sensationalism. This is a situation that deserves the media attention it’s received.
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.
Too few stories focus on the plight of single fathers; this one is beautifully written, meticulously researched, unflinching and fair. It shows the impact of smart, tough social programs and workers.
Waters' diligent reporting and clear explanatory prose take the reader through a series of little-known worlds, where concerns about overmedication of children and pharmaceutical companies' influence are silenced.
Nohl’s story on disparities in school achievement is brilliantly conceived, passionately reported and undergirded by a wealth of current educational research. She relies on ambition, originality and optimism in framing and reporting this important story.
Labi’s harrowing subject matter -- abuse within Amish communities -- is honored by her elegant, understated telling: a stylistic discipline that almost masks the staggering difficulty of her investigative reporting. An extraordinary piece of journalism. Read the story>
A gripping, heart-wrenching story. It takes us beyond the rhetoric and policy debates, and shows readers the private horror so many couples face when they find out they’re carrying a child with fetal abnormalities. The story avoids taking sides and deepens public understanding of the pro-life/pro-choice debate.
Labi gained extraordinary access to the secretive, often seamy, and entirely chilling world of "transporters" who forcibly abduct troublesome children to "tough-love" schools for behavior modification. By accompanying one transporter from start to finish, then weaving the results of her excellent reporting into a narrative on the larger phenomenon, Labi earns first-place honors for originality and captivating storytelling.
Perl eloquently chronicles one family's loving but difficult struggle to cope with a child who has mental health and behavioral problems.
Hurley movingly captures the plight of teenage foster children whose hopes for adoption are repeatedly stoked, then dashed by an unfeeling bureaucracy.
Written with care and restraint, Humes’ story skillfully depicts the problems besetting MacLaren Children’s Center for abused and neglected children. Through interviews with wards and workers, and solid historical reporting, he explains in distressing detail how the center became a dumping ground for children it was not prepared to handle, and the focus of public outrage when the inevitable tragedy struck. The center’s rules seem to have been written with a goal of failure; Humes details the absurdity.
This touching and revealing portrait of a mentally ill young man illustrates how the lack of early mental health treatment for adolescents costs the state millions later on, as their problems become more acute.
McMillan vividly illuminates a consequence of welfare reform that won’t be seen for years: a market-driven, government-sanctioned (but poorly supervised) supply of home-based child-care providers.
The article is a multi-layered exploration of President Bush's proposal to promote marriage among welfare recipients, of and the potential political and social consequences of this idea. Werber Serafini’s piece is a detailed and complex treatment of a subject that is in the thick of the ideology wars: how government and society should deal with people on public assistance. While reporting on all sides of the debate, she also looks at the root causes of out-of-wedlock births that gave rise to the marriage initiatives.
Well written and interesting, this is a highly original look at the impact of harsh sexual offender laws on teens. The article raises disturbing questions about the national zeal for tracking juvenile sex offenders without regard for the severity of the offense and the possibilities for rehabilitation.
“Girls Sentenced to Abuse.” While focusing on a lawsuit against the state of Alabama brought by girls who claim they were abused while in detention, Singer also examines the larger context of the increasing number of women and girls incarcerated in the United States.
A rich portrait of a court-appointed guardian for children in protective services. In profiling what one lawyer/investigator does to help kids, his devotion to his duties and the heartbreaking abuse that he uncovers, Simakis created a unique and compelling insight into what family courts face everywhere.
A unique portrait of the educational obstacles facing four young Latinos.
An informative, well-balanced depiction of how very low-income people will weather the storms of a weakening economy.