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.
In this effective series, the Inquirer thoroughly documented the Philadelphia Department of Human Service’s callous neglect of abused children it was charged with protecting. When officials refused to provide information on many cases, the reporters combed neighborhoods to give the stories scope and depth. Response was significant: Moved by the children’s stories and nailed by the hard-nosed reporting, state legislators toughened laws and city officials had no choice option but to clean house at the agency.
Note: This piece won the Project/Series 75,000-199,999 category, which has since been merged with the Project/Series under 75,000 category to form the Project/Series under 200,000 circulation category.
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.
This piece won the Project/Series under 75,000 category, which has since been merged with the Project/Series 75,000-199,999 category to form the Project/Series under 200,000 circulation category.
Through meticulous reporting, the reporters documented how Illinois’ Department of Children and Family Services mishandled cases involving 53 children who died in its care between 1998 and 2005. Reporters demonstrated great enterprise – scrutinizing Social Security Administration death records, coroner and police reports, and countless other materials – to connect the dots and identify the child victims. They got beyond confidentiality laws that too often leave the state's most vulnerable wards insufficiently protected and unknown even in death
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.)
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.
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.
Go behind the scenes with these Casey Medal honorees: