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Scripps Howard Awards 2018: Foundation announces winners of top prizes

Posted at 2:42 PM, Mar 06, 2018

CINCINNATI – Through dogged reporting that exposes important truths and holds the powerful accountable, winners of the Scripps Howard Awards demonstrate how journalism can change the world.

Today, the Scripps Howard Foundation announced the winners of its 65th Annual Awards in 15 categories. The Foundation will present more than $170,000 in prize money to the winning organizations and journalists at a live show in Cincinnati on Thursday, April 19, in partnership with The E.W. Scripps Company, the Foundation’s corporate parent. The event will be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube.

“The power of journalism is evident in the impact that these winning entries have had on their communities and society as a whole,” said Liz Carter, president and CEO of the Scripps Howard Foundation. “We are honored to present these awards to the winners, and salute the work of all organizations who participated in the competition.”

The 2017 Scripps Howard Award Winners:

Breaking News: San Francisco Chronicle for “Wine Country Fires” – Coverage of the worst wildfire disaster in state history in October 2017.

Judges’ comments: “The newsroom delivered rapid enterprise on questions surrounding the lack of advance warning provided to the public and more. The Chronicle’s effort is a textbook example of how to provide critical information on a fast-moving story.”

Finalists: Houston Chronicle – “Hurricane Harvey: Houston’s Reckoning”; The Press Democrat – “Northern California Wildfires”

Broadcast, Local Coverage – Jack R. Howard Award: Brendan Keefe of WXIA 11Alive Atlanta for “The Drug Whisperer” – An investigation into the ordeal of innocent people wrongly arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana.

Judges’ comments: “This kind of one-man-band reporting is often a budget-cutting technique, but Keefe shows us multimedia journalists can produce the highest quality investigative reporting. … It is also obvious that his brand of reporting is not quick-turn, short-form stunt reporting but a serious examination of an important issue that could impact anyone behind the wheel.”

Finalists: WCPO – “Policing Their Own”; WFAA – “Criminal Caretakers”

Broadcast, National, International Coverage – Jack R. Howard Award: Debora Patta, Sarah Carter and Meshack Dube of CBS News for “Ambush in Niger” – Coverage of the deaths of four U.S. soldiers in the west African country.

Judges’ comments: “CBS deserves praise, encouragement and thanks for meeting the jaw-dropping logistical and safety challenges that come with reporting from an active war zone. This was one of several examples the judges saw of CBS’ outstanding conflict zone coverage. CBS also breaks with the tradition of male war coverage journalists with the outstanding work in this winning entry by Debora Patta.”

Finalists: CNN – “Passports in the Shadows”; “Frontline PBS” – “Last Days of Solitary”

Business/Financial Reporting – William Brewster Styles Award: Brian Grow, John Shiffman and the Reuters team for “The Body Trade” – An investigation into commerce of human remains.

Judges’ comments: “The reporters exposed a system of selling human body parts for medical research that will surprise readers and, in some cases, horrify them. People who donate their bodies for the benefit of others, a final act of generosity, deserve better than the treatment the reporters exposed.”

Finalists: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – “Mexico Blackouts”; The Post and Courier – “Stickin’ With the Pig: A Tale of Loyalty and Loss”

Community Journalism – in partnership with Google News Lab: Bristol Herald Courier for “Addicted at Birth” – An extensive look at how the opioid crisis has impacted babies.

Judges’ comments: “The newspaper, with a circulation of 16,500, investigated the problem from all angles, outlined solutions and educated the community. The impact is wide-ranging for taxpayers, hospitals, families and schools. The Bristol Herald Courier not only reported what’s happening but foreshadowed what the community could face in the future.”

Finalists: Capital News Service – “Home Sick”; The Frontier – “Shadow Land: How Rape Stays Hidden in Oklahoma”

Environmental Reporting – Edward J. Meeman Award: Kale Williams of The Oregonian/OregonLive for “The Loneliest Polar Bear” – A view of the real life of Nora the polar bear, an internet sensation.
Judges’ comments: “An emotional, educational tale that leverages the irresistible story of a baby polar bear to explore deep and vexing issues – the good and bad of zoos in animal conservation and animal welfare, the plight of the arctic in a warming world. It does a superb job of weaving a human interest drama with important science and policy questions.”
Finalists: “Frontline PBS” – “War on the EPA”; Univision News Digital – “Life in the Eye of the Hurricane”

Distinguished Service to the First Amendment – Edward Willis Scripps Award: The Kansas City Star for “Why So Secret, Kansas?” – A series that helped change the culture of secrecy within a state government.

Judges’ comments: “The extraordinary series fought censorship, combatted government secrecy and instilled in the public a new appreciation for their First Amendment rights. The series prompted swift and extensive changes through the state and serves as a model for news organizations in other states.”
Finalists: Malheur Enterprise – “Deadly Decisions – The Fight for Records”; Orlando Sentinel – “Schools Without Rules”

Human Interest Storytelling – Ernie Pyle Award: John Woodrow-Cox of The Washington Post for “Children and Gun Violence” – An examination of how deadly gunfire impacts young people.      
Judges’ comments: “The ability to get the children to talk and provide details was impressive. The stories delivered a real punch. … You know the reporter spent time cultivating the relationships and getting the trust of the families. Getting through that barrier took time and effort.”

Finalists: CBS News – “60 Minutes”: “The Wounds of War”; The Washington Post – “Disabled America”

Innovation: Arizona Republic with the USA Today Network for “The Wall” – A collaborative project that helped people understand the potential impact of a controversial public policy proposal.
Judges’ comments: “The Arizona Republic and the USA Today Network strategically used innovative techniques – 360 video, drones, virtual reality – to support the journalism and enhance the audience’s understanding of the subject matter. … The result is a playbook of emerging best practices designed to maximize the potential audience.”
Finalists: International Consortium of Investigative Journalists – “Paradise Papers: Secrets of the Global Elite”; The New York Times – “Blockbuster Videos”  

Investigative Reporting – Ursula and Gilbert Farfel Prize: The New York Times for “Harassed” – The catalyst for an ongoing reckoning about sexual harassment and abuse, secret settlements and lack of accountability.

Judges’ comments: “This series is in the best tradition of journalism that helps change the world. It ranges from stories that forced the removal of Bill O’Reilly at Fox News to those that got critical sources on the record to reveal the serial abuse of Harvey Weinstein. By broadening out to report on Ford Motor, Louis C.K. and Vice Media, the Times helped catalyze the #MeToo movement.”
Finalists: The Washington Post – “Roy Moore”; The Washington Post and “60 Minutes” – “DEA/The Whistleblower”

Multimedia Journalism: The Washington Post for “Sin Luz: Life Without Power” – An immersive project that takes viewers into the daily struggles of Puerto Ricans following two powerful hurricanes.

Judges’ comments: “This is the kind of journalism that the Multimedia category was designed to recognize. The storytelling uses small amounts of text to string together compelling, visually appealing video. The video includes striking natural sound, interviews, drone video, color, light, characters and more. The story also makes strong use of data, graphics and unique 3D renderings.”
Finalists: GateHouse Media – “In the Shadow of Wind Farms”; Tampa Bay Times – “Why Cops Shoot”

Opinion – Walker Stone Award: Melinda Henneberger for The Kansas City Star – A portfolio of work that is a revealing look at the people and political issues driving conversations in the heartland, giving voice to those often unheard or viewpoints overlooked.

Judges’ comments: “Great columnists write so well that they transport readers to a different time and place, allowing readers to observe what the writer is seeing. … Good reporting and eloquence made Henneberger the clear winner in a competitive field.”
Finalists: Alabama Media Group – “Stand for Decency, Reject Roy Moore”; Los Angeles Times – “Our Dishonest President”

Radio/Podcast – Jack R. Howard Award: Laura Heaton and Michael May of NPR for “The Congo We Listen To,” an episode of “Rough Translation” – The podcast episode that revisited a shocking story of human suffering and found discrepancies in the original account.

Judges’ comments: “This is an example of excellent journalism. At a time in which foreign coverage is being cut back, ‘Rough Translation’ took a second look at a global story and found serious discrepancies in previous reports. It’s a reminder of how the process of fact finding can be corrupted. This is a beautifully crafted and complex piece.”

Finalists: WBEZ – “The View From Room 205”; WNIN – “A Scar on the System – The Case of Albert Fink”

Topic of the Year – Divided America: Elle Reeve, Tracy Jarrett, Josh Davis and Joe LoCascio of VICE News for “Charlottesville: Race & Terror” – Coverage of how ideological differences exploded into a deadly day of violence.

Judges’ comments: “VICE News’ raw, unvarnished storytelling was courageous, original and powerful. While this story was covered by every news organization, Elle Reeve’s access and calm but persistent questioning produced unique insights, giving us a far deeper understanding of a conflict that became an icon for our divided America.”

Finalists: InsideClimate News – “Finding Middle Ground: Conversations Across America”; ProPublica – “Documenting Hate”

Visual Journalism: Leah Millis of San Francisco Chronicle – The visual documenting of some of the year’s most complex issues and events, from raising transgender children, to political protests, to deportations to the jailing of children in the foster care system.

Finalists: British Broadcasting Corporation – Darren Conway; Los Angeles Daily News – Hans Gutknecht, “I Am Homeless”

All of the winners are under consideration for the Impact Award, the competition’s highest honor. The winner will be announced during the Awards show on April 19.