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Winners of the National Center on Disability and Journalism awards contests display their trophies. From left: Michael Garcia, first in the student category; Sonja Sharp, second in the professional large media category; Emily Schmidt, third place student winner;  and Christina Cavalcanti, first in professional large media.  The winners were recognized at an event at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University Nov. 14, 2022.

Winners of the National Center on Disability and Journalism awards

The National Center on Disability and Journalism has announced the winners of the 2022 Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability as well as the inaugural winners of the Gary Corcoran Student Prize for Excellence in Reporting on Disability.

The Schneider and Corcoran prizes are the only journalism contests devoted exclusively to the coverage of people with disabilities and disability issues.

The first-place prize in the Schneider Award Large Media category was awarded to Heidi Blake and Katie J.M. Baker of BuzzFeed News for their story: “Beyond Britney: Abuse, Exploitation, and Death Inside America’s Guardianship Industry.” Their examination highlighted dangerous flaws in the nation’s guardianship system and unseemly profits for those who take part in it.

Sonja Sharp of the Los Angeles Times won second in the Large Media category for her work on “Disabled moms face healthcare snubs.” Sharp, who covers education and disability rights, produced her work with the support of the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism’s 2021 California Fellowship.

Third place in the Large Media category was awarded to Joseph Shapiro and Allison Mollenkamp of National Public Radio for their investigation “Air Travel Still a Nightmare for People with Disabilities,” which explored the anxiety, dread, humiliation and even injury experienced by people with disabilities during air travel.

First place in the Schneider Award Small Media category went to journalists Karim Merhej, Kareem Chehayeb and Christina Cavalcanti of The Public Source. Their story, “And What Would You Like Me to Do About It: How the Lebanese Government Disabled Hundreds of People – And Left Them to Pay for Its Crime,” examined the failed government response in the aftermath of the devastating ammonium nitrate explosion in Beirut that left hundreds of residents disabled.

Second in the Small Media category was awarded to Maria Delaney of Noteworthy, based in Ireland, for her “LIFT OUT” series, which examined transit challenges for users of the Dublin transit system. Third place was awarded to Jennifer Szweda Jordan of Unabridged Press and All Abilities Media for “A Valid Podcast, Season 3” that explores social inclusion for those with intellectual abilities.

New this year is the Corcoran Award for student journalists who explored disability-related issues. First place went to Michael Garcia, a graduate student at Syracuse University, for his work on “The Wilderness Pill” for Upstate Unearthed, chronicling the value of outdoor education for veterans with PTSD and other ailments.

Second place was awarded to Christopher Hippensteel, also of Syracuse University, whose piece “PA justice system fails autistic people” was published by PublicSource.

The third-place student prize went to Emily Schmidt of Arizona State University for “Fading Inside: One family’s battle with Alzheimer’s amid the pandemic,” a poignant and personal in-depth story about health struggles in her own family published by Cronkite News/Arizona PBS.

 For more information, read the full announcement.