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NCDJ Accepting Entries in Annual Disability Reporting Contest

NCDJ 2020 Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability

May 15, 2020

The National Center on Disability and Journalism is now accepting entries for the 2020 Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability, the only journalism contest devoted exclusively to disability coverage.

Winners will receive a total of $8,000 in cash awards for first-, second- and third-place finishes in large media and small media categories. First-place winners in each category will be awarded $2,500 and invited to give a public lecture for the Cronkite School in fall 2020. Second-place winners will receive $1,000, third-place winners $500.

Journalists working in digital, print and broadcast media are eligible to enter. Entries are accepted from outside the U.S., although the work submitted must be in English. There is no entry fee.

Entries must have been published or aired between July 1, 2019, and July 31, 2020. The deadline to enter is Aug. 17, 2020. For more information and to enter, go to https://ncdj.org/contest/.

Entries are judged by professional journalists and experts on disability issues. Past judges have included “PBS NewsHour” anchor Judy Woodruff; Tony Coelho, former six-term U.S. congressman from California and the primary sponsor of the Americans With Disabilities Act; former Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter Leon Dash; and Daniel Burke, CNN religion editor.

The top 2019 award in the large media category went to an investigation into a New York City initiative to let those with severe mental illnesses live on their own. The project was a collaboration of ProPublica, The New York Times and PBS Frontline. The first-place winner in the small media category was a collaborative documentary between the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Milwaukee PBS. The program followed the lives of four young people from Wisconsin as they navigated mental health challenges. To read more about the 2019 award-winners, visit https://cronkite.asu.edu/news-and-events/news/propublica-and-pbs-frontline-milwaukee-journal-sentinel-and-milwaukee-pbs-win.

For all the past winners, visit https://ncdj.org/contest/ncdj-contest-archive/.

The Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability is administered each year by the NCDJ, which is part of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. It is supported by a gift from Katherine Schneider, a retired clinical psychologist who also supports the Schneider Family Book Award, honoring the best children’s book each year that captures the disability experience for children and adolescents. That award is administered by the American Library Association.

Schneider, who has been blind since birth, said she 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.

The NCDJ, which has been housed at the Cronkite School since 2008, offers resources and materials for journalists covering disability issues and topics, including a widely used disability language stylebook. For more information, visit the NCDJ’s website at https://ncdj.org.

2018 Contest Winners

2018 Winners

Ruderman Awards for Excellence in Reporting on Disability

 

 FIRST PLACE

“Abused and Betrayed”

National Public Radio

Joseph Shapiro, Robert Little, Meg Anderson

Read story HERE

Overview: This NPR series examines the hidden epidemic of people with intellectual disabilities being sexually assaulted. The NPR Investigations Team spent more than a year sifting through court records and interviewing victims and family members. They found that crimes against people with intellectual disabilities often go unrecognized, unprosecuted and unpunished, leaving the abuser free to abuse again. The investigation also included a first-ever analysis of federal crime data and tracked what states are doing about the issue.

 

SECOND PLACE          

“Pain and Profit”

Dallas Morning News

David McSwane, Andrew Chavez David

Read story HERE  

Overview: “Pain and profit” documents the way Texas treats fragile people who rely on Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poor and disabled. With the help of whistleblowers and more than 160 public records requests, the series exposed the systemic denials of care and other abuses by companies paid to administer Medicaid. The Texas legislature held hearings on the findings and began considering new legislation to address the problems. 

 

THIRD PLACE

“Stuck Kids”

ProPublica Illinois

Read story HERE  

Overview: Duaa Eldeib, Sandhya Kambhampati, and Vignesh Ramachandran

The “Stuck Kids” investigation reveals that between 2015 and 2017, 21 percent of the time children spent in psychiatric hospitals in Illinois was not medically necessary. The children remained confined to hospitals because the state failed to find appropriate placements for them. Some children were stuck in psychiatric hospitals for months, despite evidence that unnecessarily prolonged hospital stays can have detrimental effects on children in terms of both their emotional well-being and their behavior.

 

HONORABLE MENTION

“Aftereffect”

WNYC, New York public radio

Audrey Quinn, Aneri Pattani, Phoebe Wang

Listen HERE

Overview: “Aftereffect” is an eight-episode podcast that takes listeners inside the life of Arnaldo Rios Soto, a 26-year-old, non-speaking man with autism whose life was upended in 2016 when someone mistook a silver toy truck in his hand for a gun. Police arrived and ended up shooting and severely wounded Arnaldo’s aide, which set off a sequence of events that put Arnaldo’s life in a downward spiral.

 

OTHER NOTABLE ENTRIES

Presented in alphabetical order by title of entry

“Alive Inside”

Mike Hixenbaugh, Houston Chronicle

December 5, 2017

Read HERE

Overview: Of the thousands of severely brain-injured people who are discharged to nursing homes or acute care hospitals in the U.S. each year, 40 percent are estimated to be covertly aware, or in the “minimally conscious state.” They drift between consciousness and brain death, trapped inside themselves and unable to communicate. This story takes a personal look at just one of the many people who are “alive inside,” despite appearing to be in a vegetative state.

 

“Schools Aren’t Preparing Students With Disabilities for Active Shooter Scenarios”

Jordan Davidson, The Mighty

March 14, 2018

Read HERE

Overview: There were more than 100 school shootings between Sandy Hook in 2012 and Parkland in early 2018, but there’s still no federal mandate for schools to hold active shooter drills. That means it’s up to individual schools to decide if — and how — to prepare students. As this article explores, modifications for students with disabilities are rarely included in these trainings.

 

2018 Winners

Katherine Schneider Medal

 

FIRST PLACE

“Nowhere to Go”

Kaiser Health News

Christina Jewett

Read story HERE

Overview: “Nowhere to Go” shows how teenagers and young adults with autism are spending weeks or even months in hospitals, where they are sedated, restrained or confined to mesh-tented beds. These young people are taken to hospitals when families can’t get help from community social services and other programs; they end up calling 911, and those calls often result in long and agonizing hospital stays for their loved ones.

 

SECOND PLACE

“Back of the Class”

KING Television in Seattle, Washington

Susannah Frame, Taylor Mirfendereski, Ryan Coe

Watch HERE

Overview: “Back of the Class” documents how thousands of children in the state of Washington are segregated in public schools, in violation of federal and state laws and despite research that shows children with disabilities made better progress in integrated classrooms. Children with disabilities are isolated from other students in classroom settings and even in the lunchroom, often as a way to save money, the report concludes, and Washington State has one of the worst records in the country in serving such children.

 

 THIRD PLACE

“Trapped” Better Government Association and WBEZ Chicago Public Media

Alejandra Cancino, Better Government Association

Odette Yousef, WBEZ Chicago Public Media

Read story HERE  

Overview: “Trapped” exposes unsafe elevators, shoddy record keeping and failed oversight at the Chicago Housing Authority, where many elderly tenants live, as the series put it, “in fear of their own buildings.” Hundreds of these residents, for whom stairs are not an option, end up trapped inside unsafe elevators in high-rise apartment buildings owned by the housing authority. The problems continue despite repeated citations for safety violations, flunked safety inspections and hundreds of panicked calls to 911. The series prompted the housing authority to begin a $25 million project to modernize and replace elevators.

 

HONORABLE MENTION

“Flying the Unfriendly Skies”

New Mobility Magazine

Kenny Salvini

Read story HERE 

Overview: “Flying the Unfriendly Skies” relates how, in the course of a single year, the author’s  wheelchair was damaged two times by two different airlines.“ Once is a case of bad luck. Twice is the universe revealing your path. Having two wheelchairs destroyed by two different airlines in the span of a year has a way of thrusting you into a bit of reluctant advocacy with a lot of questions that need answers,” Salvini writes. He set out to find the answers and discovered a history of failed airline policies and a seeming indifference that affects thousands of others who live with disabilities.

 

NOTABLE ENTRY

“Out of Options”

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

April 23, 2018

Watch HERE

Overview: This video documentary follows two Texas families as they begin their journey to pursuing an alternative form of medical treatment for children with epilepsy: cannabis oil, or CBD oil. Despite the state’s passage of the Compassionate Use Act in 2015, which legalized a certain type of CBD oil for epilepsy patients who haven’t responded to federally-approved medication, families still face challenges with getting the treatment. 

‘The Silent Child’ about deaf girl wins 2018 Oscar for Best Short Film

A short film about a 4-year-old deaf girl called “The Silent Child” won the 2018 Academy Award for Best Short Film (Live Action). The film’s title character is played by Maisie Sly who is deaf in real life. The film was written by UK actress Rachel Shenton and directed by her fiancé Chris Overton. During the awards ceremony Shenton used American Sign Language to translate her acceptance speech, which doubled as a passionate description of communication challenges faced by children with disabilities.

“Our movie is about a deaf child being born into a world of silence,” said Shenton. “It’s not exaggerated or sensationalized for the movie. This is happening, millions of children all over the world live in silence and face communication barriers, and particularly access to education. Deafness is a silent disability. You can’t see it and it’s not life-threatening, so I want to say the biggest of ‘Thank yous’ to the Academy for allowing us to put this in front of a mainstream audience. ”

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for “The Silent Child”. CLICK BELOW to watch Shenton and Overton’s acceptance speech.

Ruderman Family Foundation Launches Journalism Awards for Excellence in Disability Reporting

The Ruderman Family Foundation announced today a major new journalism awards program to recognize the best disability reporting produced each year by media organizations around the world.

The new Ruderman Foundation Awards for Excellence in Reporting on Disability will recognize work done by large-market digital, broadcast and print media outlets, with prizes of $10,000, $2,500 and $1,000 for first-, second- and third-place winners, respectively. The first Ruderman Foundation awards will be presented in fall 2018 at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., featuring a keynote address on disability journalism as well as a workshop for journalists on how to improve disability coverage.

The program will be administered by the National Center on Disability and Journalism at Arizona State University, which has directed a smaller disability awards program since 2013.

At the same time, the NCDJ has created an honor recognizing disability journalism by small media outlets. That contest continues the work of Katherine Schneider, a retired clinical psychologist, who launched the first NCDJ awards program. The Katherine Schneider Medal will honor local journalists in small markets who produce outstanding disability reporting.

The Ruderman Family Foundation is a philanthropic organization that advocates for the full inclusion of people with disabilities into society.

Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, said inclusion and understanding of all people is essential to a fair and flourishing society.

“All too often people with disabilities are conveyed as charity cases or objects of pity,” Ruderman said. “We hope that this award will change the landscape of journalism so that reporters will portray people with disabilities as active and contributing members of society. This coverage will reach millions of Americans, and the public perception of disability will shift, leading to more meaningful inclusion of people with disabilities throughout all sectors of society.”

The NCDJ has been part of ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication since 2008. The organization provides support and guidance for journalists as they cover people with disabilities, including a popular style guide that offers advice on the use of disability-related words and terms.

Cronkite Senior Associate Dean Kristin Gilger, who directs the NCDJ, said people with disabilities make up at least 19 percent of the U.S. population – 54.4 million people, yet important disability issues still don’t get the attention they deserve, and, too often, the coverage that does exist portrays people with disabilities in stereotypical or inaccurate ways.

“The support from the Ruderman Family Foundation and Katherine Schneider is an important step in helping journalists and the general public better understand people with disabilities and disability issues,” she said.

Entries for the Ruderman Foundation Awards for Excellence in Reporting on Disability and Katherine Schneider Medal will be accepted beginning in May 2018 at https://ncdj.org.

About the Ruderman Family Foundation

The Ruderman Family Foundation is an internationally recognized organization, which advocates for the full inclusion of people with disabilities in our society. The Foundation supports effective programs, innovative partnerships and a dynamic approach to philanthropy in advocating for and advancing the inclusion of people with disabilities throughout the United States and the world.

The Ruderman Family Foundation believes that inclusion and understanding of all people is essential to a fair and flourishing community and imposes these values within its leadership and funding.

For more information, please visit www.rudermanfoundation.org.

About the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

The Cronkite School at Arizona State University is widely recognized as one of the nation’s premier professional journalism programs. The School’s 1,800 students regularly lead the country in national journalism competitions. They are guided by faculty comprised of award-winning professional journalists and world-class media scholars. Cronkite’s full-immersion professional programs give students opportunities to practice what they’ve learned in a real-world setting under the guidance of professionals.

Patricia Callahan and Michael J. Berens take home top prize for Excellence in Reporting on Disability

The Chicago Tribune’s investigative reporters Patricia Callahan and Michael J. Berens took home 1st Prize in this year’s Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability. On November 27th the veteran reporting team visited downtown Phoenix to tour Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, meet school staff and students, conduct several video interviews and meet other contest winners. In the evening they participated in a panel discussion, hosted by NCDJ Advisory Board member Leon Dash, for the Cronkite School’s “Must See Mondays” speaker series. During the panel Callahan and Berens described challenges of acquiring and analyzing Illinois public records that documented mistreatment of people with disabilities at state-funded group homes. Emotional photos by Chicago Tribune’s John J. Kim from Callahan and Beren’s award-winning series “Suffering in Secret” were projected on the video screen behind the panel. A full video recording of the panel discussion and ceremony is now available on Vimeo. Click HERE to watch it.

First Place winners Patricia Callahan and Michael Berens pose with awards sponsor Katherine Schneider on November 27, 2017 at ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
First Place winners Patricia Callahan and Michael J. Berens pose with awards sponsor Katherine Schneider on November 27, 2017 at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.