Stories of obese children, the treatment of mentally ill teens and an Internet package on teens who “age out” of foster care were among the top winners of the 2002 Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism. The awards, first presented by the Casey Journalism Center on Children and Families in 1994, recognize distinguished coverage of children and families in the United States. This year’s contest attracted more than 200 entries.
An outstanding project that documented the ill effects of treating troubled youths as criminals rather than providing them with effective mental health treatment, social skill building and job training. Twedt did a tremendous amount of legwork to open the system and tell the stories of incarcerated youths. He also tells the larger story of what the decline in psychiatric facilities and services means for society. An important piece in the series highlighted a Wisconsin program that makes myriad services available to case managers, letting readers know about successful alternatives for dealing with troubled children.
Jacqui Saburido’s story of surviving severe burns after being hit by a drunk driver is superbly written and thoroughly crafted. It is its own outraged testimony against drinking and driving — which kills and cripples all too many young people and destroys too many families.
The series is timely and asks the right questions about an issue that confounds every school district and concerns growing numbers of parents. Far more California children qualify for special ed than in previous years, and the cost of educating them is enormous. Tucker successfully blends personal stories and research, guides the reader to understanding the special-education dilemma and illuminates an important public policy issue.
Innovative, creative and informative, the series presents a comprehensive look at the prevalence and effects of New Mexico’s abject child poverty. The layout, photographs and graphics were exceptionally good and helped outline the problems. This is an impressive and concentrated body of work by a publication that stretched itself to give its readers critical information.
While many people know that children are fatter today than ever before, this comprehensive and enlightening package probes the causes of childhood obesity and its effects on society. The reporters introduce us to children whose health problems mirror those of middle age; provide eye-opening information about the fat content in fast foods; explore the role of race and class in obesity; and reveal the alarming opinion, especially among teenage boys, that being fat is okay. The “Diary of a Teenage Diet” graphic, charting a week’s meals for two high school students, adds a great finishing touch.
Gamino chronicles the hard choices of Corey and Millicent Bell, quintessential black urban professionals caught in a quandary: Do they do the right thing and adopt Corey’s eight younger siblings after his parents’ early deaths? Or do they let this family splinter in the manner that prompts so many wrenching stories in today’s news pages? Gamino has a fine eye for detail, a keen ear for the telling quote and a skilled pen for sketching the emotional scene.
With an eye for detail, an ear for dialogue and a writing style powerful in its directness, Frankel chronicled a child-cancer story that was compelling because the characters were so human and the medical outcome so uncertain. He obtained exceptional access and brought readers into the central family drama — the death of a child.
Ahearn is a wonderful stylist who writes with authority and brings readers to her work in an engaging, accessible way. Hers is the work of a journalist interested in reportorial discovery, and her reporting is superb. She's on the street, investing shoeleather, sticking notes in screen doors, talking to real people and listening to what they say. She obviously knows these stories before she ever touches a keyboard.
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.
Reckdahl’s series of strong reports show that the juvenile justice system in Louisiana needs more accountability for how it treats young offenders. Her indefatigable reporting is the series' strength. She uses case histories and numbers in addressing the questions of how best to handle juvenile offenders, and she gives a full and compelling report on the troubled Tallulah Correctional Center for Youth.
Song took a nonvisual issue (lead poisoning) and brought it to life; the images were so powerful that we could feel the paint chipping. The compelling photographs showed enormous creativity with the use of high and low camera angles. As her young subjects played and slept — oblivious to the presence of the camera — Song brought to light a crucial issue for children of all socio-economic backgrounds.
This package of stories showcases stellar reporting and writing and demonstrates the power of a true multimedia news-feature on the Internet. Without preaching or flinching, the stories follow three teens — Janea, Monique and Jesse — as they graduate from the foster care system and are left to fend for themselves in shelters, prison and on the streets. Through text-based stories, photo galleries, narrated slide shows and video, the reader is shown how difficult the adjustment can be. There's enough heartbreak and hope in the series to keep policymakers occupied for a century.
An original, moving piece of journalism that explored a little-known policy quirk with a major impact: Alabama’s Medicaid coverage requires disabled youths to move into out-of-home nursing care once they reach 21. Refusing to succumb to television's chronic memory lapses, Mildwurf continued to follow the battle of Nick Dupree for months, to the state capital and even to Washington, D.C. He captured the larger picture without ever losing the drama of Dupree’s plight. Finally, it appears the piece had impact: several legislators are proposing bills to address the problem exposed by the piece.
A powerful, dignified and compelling presentation of complex issues affecting children and families as revealed by the Collins family of Chicago, who detail their efforts to escape the hopelessness and violence of the infamous Henry Horner Homes housing project. Through the intimate exploration of individual family members’ experiences, the producer has illuminated the underlying social, cultural and economic context in which four generations struggle. It is beautifully filmed and sensitive.