2014 Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability

Entries are now being accepted for the second annual Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability.

The Schneider Award is the first national journalism contest devoted exclusively to disability coverage. It is administered by the National Center on Disability and Journalism, headquartered at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, under a grant from Katherine Schneider, a retired clinical psychologist who also supports the Schneider Family Book Award. That award is administered by the American Library Association and honors the best children’s book each year that captures the disability experience for children and adolescents.

The first-place winner is awarded $5,000 and receives an invitation to speak at the Cronkite School. The second-place winner receives a $1,500 award, and additional honorable mention awards of $500 may be given at the discretion of the judges.

Entries for the 2013-2014 contest will be accepted beginning in May of 2014. The entry deadline is July 31, 2014 by 11:59 p.m. MST. Entries must be published or aired between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014. Entries will be accepted from print publications, radio or television outlets and online-only publications. Please follow these guidelines when entering:

  • For broadcast entries: Include a DVD or CD of your entry (limited to 10 minutes or less) or provide a URL where your entry can be viewed.
  • For print entries: Include a tear sheet or PDF of your entry or provide a URL where your entry can be read. Entries are limited to a single story or story package (a main story with sidebars of shorter length or a series of no more than four related stories).
  • For online entries: Provide a URL where your entry can be accessed. Entries are limited to a single story or story package (a main story with sidebars of shorter length or a series of no more than four related stories).
  • Describe your entry in 500 words or less outlining any (a) any obstacles in reporting, (b) lessons learned in doing this report (c) impact of your work d) any corrections or challenges to accuracy following publication.

The judges will consider how well submissions:

  • Explore and illuminate key legal or judicial issues regarding the treatment of people with disabilities;
  • Explore and illuminate government policies and practices regarding disabilities;
  • Explore and illuminate practices of private companies and organizations regarding disabilities;
  • Go beyond the ordinary in conveying the challenges experienced by people living with disabilities and strategies for meeting these challenges;
  • Offer balanced accounts of key points of controversy in the field and provide useful information to the general public;
  • Special consideration will be given to entries that are accessible to those with disabilities. For example, broadcast pieces that are available in transcript form and text stories that are accessible to screen readers. All entries will be published on the NCDJ website in accessible formats.

Schneider, who has been blind since birth, hopes the award will help journalists improve their coverage of disability issues, moving beyond “inspirational” stories that don’t accurately represent the lives of people with disabilities. “That kind of stuff is remarkable, but that’s not life as most of us live it,” she said.

Entries may be filled out online.

The NCDJ, which has been housed at the Cronkite School since 2008, offers resources and materials for journalists covering disability issues and topics. For more information, visit our About page. For the 2013 winners, visit http://ncdj.org/contest/first-winners-named-in-disability-awards-contest/.

NCDJ Judges 2013

Tony Coelho is a former U.S. congressman from California and primary author and sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act. He serves on the board of the American Association of People with Disabilities, the country’s largest cross-disability membership organization, is the past chair of the Epilepsy Foundation and chairs the Partnership to Improve Patient Care. Coelho was the original author of the Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. He chaired the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities from 1994 to 2001 and served as vice chair of the National Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities, co-chair of the U.S. Census Monitoring Board and as general chairman of the Al Gore presidential campaign. Coelho has had epilepsy since his late teens.

Leon Dash is the Swanlund Chair Professor of Journalism and the Director of the Center for Advanced Study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a member of the board of the National Center on Disability and Journalism. A former reporter for The Washington Post, he is author of “Rosa Lee: A Mother and Her Family in Urban America,” which grew out of a series he did for the Post for which he won a Pulitzer Prize. Dash recently completed research for a documentary film on the University of Illinois’s DRES program, the disability rights movement and what is left to be done in the United States for persons with disabilities. His youngest daughter has cerebral palsy.

Cyndi Jones is former director of The Center for an Accessible Society, funded by the National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research to disseminate information about independent living and disability research to the media. She has served on the Advisory Board of the National Center on Medical Rehabilitation Research at the National Institutes of Health and helped launch MAINSTREAM magazine, eventually becoming its president and chief executive officer. She was recognized by the American Library Association in 1992 for “making a substantial contribution to the promotion of independence and empowerment to individuals with disabilities”.

Jennifer Longdon, who was paralyzed in a random shooting incident several years ago and now uses a wheelchair, has been an active speaker on disability issues in the Phoenix metropolitan area and the subject of numerous articles about disability. She is the immediate past chair of the Phoenix Mayor’s Commission on Disability Issues and serves on the State Independent Living Council of Arizona. She is a member of Arizonans for Gun Safety and serves as public impact adviser to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. She is currently training for a coast-to-coast hand-cycle ride.

Tim McGuire is the Frank Russell Chair for the Business of Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University and a member of the NCDJ board. He spent most of his career at the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper, where he was editor and senior vice president. He was managing editor of the newspaper when it won a Pulitzer Prize in 1990. McGuire has been a Pulitzer jurist six times and is a past president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. McGuire was born with a congenital birth defect called Arthrogriposis Multicongenita. He has a 32-year-old son with Down syndrome.