Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability

Entries are now open for the annual Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability. The entry deadline is Aug. 7, 2015, by 11:59 p.m.

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 must be published or aired between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015. Entries will be accepted from print publications, radio or television outlets and online-only publications. Please follow these guidelines when entering:

  • For broadcast entries (radio or TV): 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 2014 winners, visit http://ncdj.org/2014/10/new-york-times-wins-disability-reporting-award/. For the 2013 winners, visit http://ncdj.org/contest/first-winners-named-in-disability-awards-contest/.

Judges for the 2015 Contest

Jerry Ceppos is dean of the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University. He was previously dean of the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. During a long career in newspapers, Ceppos served as vice president for news Knight Ridder, then the second-largest newspaper company; managing editor and executive editor of the San Jose Mercury News; assistant managing editor of the Miami Herald; and a reporter and editor at the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. He served twice as president of the California Society of Newspaper Editors and was president of the Associated Press Managing Editors. He is a former board member of the Student Press Law Center and of the First Amendment Coalition in California and was one of three winners of the first Ethics in Journalism Award of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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.

Jennifer LaFleur is senior editor for data journalism at the Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit investigative newsroom based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CIR, LaFleur was director of computer-assisted reporting for ProPublica, a nonprofit news organization based in New York City. LaFleur also has held investigative reporting and editing positions at The Dallas Morning News, the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She is co-author of a book on computer-assisted reporting and has won awards for her coverage of disability, legal and open-government issues.

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.