New York's Newsday, ABC’s “Nightline,” the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday-Telegram and The Hartford Courant were among the top winners of the 2000 Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism. The awards, which were first presented by the Casey Journalism Center in 1994, honor distinguished coverage of disadvantaged children and families in the United States.
A comprehensive and compelling series that ran over nine days, this investigative project is a masterwork of detailed reporting, compelling narrative and in-depth analysis of how weak state laws and regulations allowed children to be harmed in child care facilities. The articles are focused, define the problem and hit the target again and again, leaving no wiggle room and little opportunity for reader apathy. Brian Donovan’s lead stories combine compelling narrative and bulletproof factual analysis. The series was also an important public service, published as demand for inexpensive child care exploded due to welfare work requirements, and as parents from all income levels increasingly searched for out-of-home care. A guide for finding good child care ensured that readers weren’t left feeling helpless, and legislative responses to the series spoke loudly to its impact.
In two separate series, Walsh does more to help adults understand teenagers and help teen-ager understand one another than any number of hand-wringing psychologists could ever do. Her reporting doesn’t lecture readers about cliques and the sexual climate — she put the focus on teens that readers came to really care about. By allowing the students to tell their own stories unfiltered by the academic reflections of "experts," Walsh opened a compelling and poignant window into the lives of young adults. In the wake of the Columbine shooting, nearly every media outlet has looked for ways to bring home the story of how difficult the teenage years can be. This series, conceived before those awful events, succeeds.
In a four-part series, Gumz evaluated the impact of California’s Proposition 227, which looked at the end of bilingual education. This impressive series would stand out even at much larger papers. It matched sophisticated statistical reporting with all kinds of human faces — students, parents, teachers, principals, activists. Gumz skillfully presented the complexities of bilingual education in a way that other reporters might heed, as these issues are bound to affect many regions in the years ahead. In all, a comprehensive, well-written package.
A compelling, in-depth look at the foster-care challenge in central Harlem. This story had it all: great detail, told through the voices of foster parents and professionals, and statistics that illustrated the depth of the problem. It was also told in a nice conversational style that kept the reader's attention.
The author showed great resourcefulness in reporting charges that a highly regarded Orthodox rabbi had harassed or abused teens in his charge for nearly three decades. Rosenblatt showed astonishing fortitude in the face of powerful institutional pressure to keep the story out of the paper. The story illuminated not just the pattern of abuse in this specific case, but also the enormous difficulty ordinary people face when they try to make a case against a powerful and shielded individual. We are reminded that disadvantaged youth include children who are not protected by their parents and the larger community from abusive leaders whom they have been taught to trust.
Sureck-Mei’s photographs provided readers with a focused, 16-year journey through the life of Nichole Ann Nemecek, from adolescence, through welfare motherhood, to work. This isn’t your classic rags-to-riches story, nor is it the story of a person who leaves welfare to find success. This is the story of a young woman struggling to make a beginning. Sureck-Mei lets Nemecek tell her own story, full of hardships and the small victories that reveal the impact that family history has on succeeding generations. The package shows that family progress rarely occurs in great leaps and bounds, and is more often a great struggle for every scrap of ground gained.
Over six months, Beaubien gave a sustained and comprehensive look at John Marshall Elementary School in Boston. He chronicled many aspects of the school’s struggles, including attempts to improve literacy, combat truancy, cope with the quirks of its architecture, repair its playground and inspire its students. Beaubien’s work was notable not just for the range of topics it covered in 13 reports, but for the variety of voices it brought to listeners. He was able to win the trust of teachers and administrators, and in so doing gave listeners a well-rounded portrayal of life in an inner-city school.
Broadcast over five nights, the program was an ambitious effort to examine how “justice” is applied to juvenile law-breakers and to ask serious questions about the effects of new laws which are likely to bring more young people into the juvenile justice system. The program was a balanced discussion of complex issues. More than that, it let viewers see and hear stories through the eyes and words of individual people: the offenders, their parents, victims’ relatives, and the prosecutors, judges, guards and caseworkers who run the juvenile system. It represents the best of what television journalism can be.
An outstanding exploration of the results of welfare reform in Wisconsin, a state that led the way in changing government policy to require recipients to work. The program explodes stereotypes and the team took great pains to show the facts to viewers and let them be the judge. The result is a powerful, sensitively photographed documentary that gives viewers a new understanding of the consequences of government policy affecting families and children.