contest

ProPublica and PBS Frontline, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and Milwaukee PBS win top prizes in 2019 Schneider Disability Reporting Competition

The National Center on Disability and Journalism at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication announced the winners of the 2019 Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability, the only journalism contest devoted exclusively to the coverage of people with disabilities and disability issues.

Journalists working in digital, print and broadcast media from around the world competed for awards and cash prizes totaling $17,000.

First place in the large media market category was awarded to Right to Fail, Living Apart, Coming Undone, an in-depth investigation by ProPublica and PBS Frontline in collaboration with The New York Times. The series, written by Joaquin Sapien of ProPublica and Tom Jennings of PBS Frontline, examined the efforts of New York City to let those with severe mental illnesses live on their own. Reporters obtained about 7,000 pages of records from hospitals, psychiatrists, social agencies and housing programs to reveal how an ambitious housing program left many vulnerable residents in danger. In response to the investigation, a New York federal judge ordered expanded oversight of the housing program.

“’Living Apart, Coming Undone’ was an extraordinarily well-reported story about good intentions — moving mentally ill New Yorkers out of institutions into their own apartments — gone horribly wrong. The story and the photos made the human pain obvious,” said contest judge Jerry Ceppos, former newspaper executive and dean of the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University. Sapien and Jennings will receive $5,000 and an invitation to the Cronkite School to give a public lecture on Dec. 2, 2019.

Second place in the large media market category was awarded to Trapped: Abuse and neglect in private care entered by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. WNYC-FM reporter and Aftereffect host Audrey Quinn’s reporting revealed a history of abuse, neglect and client deaths at facilities run by Bellwether Behavioral Health, the largest group home provider in the state of New Jersey. The award-winning episode showed how even as state after state cut ties with Bellwether, New Jersey continued to send nearly 400 of its most vulnerable citizens and $67 million a year in Medicaid to the troubled company. After the investigation, New Jersey ended its relationship with Bellwether. Quinn will receive $2,000.

Third place in the large media market category was awarded to Unfit by Radiolab. Produced by Matt Kielty, Pat Walters and Lulu Miller, the episodes explore how people with disabilities were targeted for sterilization during the early 20th century as a form of eugenic genocide, but laws permitting forced sterilization have quietly stayed on the books. While the language is now different — swapping terms like “feebleminded” for “mentally incapacitated” — there are still 23 states that allow for a person with intellectual disabilities to be sterilized against their will if a court decides it is in their “best interest.” The podcast episode reached millions of listeners and hit the top 10 on the iTunes charts. Creators of “Unfit” will receive $1,000.

Honorable mention in the large media market category was awarded to The parents said it was a special needs bed. The state said it was a cage by Mary Jo Pitzl of The Arizona Republic. This story exposed the confusion – and potential harm – that happens when bureaucracies can’t see past their rule books to understand the intricacies of the fragile populations they are charged to protect. Pitzl explored the Wadsacks’ ordeal to win approval for caregivers to use a specialty bed for their developmentally disabled daughter and how the interpretation of a rule took years to untangle. Pitzl will receive $500.

In addition to Ceppos, the judges for the large media market category were Tony Coelho, a former six-term U.S. congressman from California and the primary sponsor of the Americans With Disabilities Act; Daniel Burke, CNN religion editor; and Amy Silverman, a Phoenix-based writer, editor and teacher.

First place in the small media market category was awarded to You’re Not Alone, 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. The documentary was built on USA Today Network reporter Rory Linnane’s “Kids in Crisis” series. The film encourages young people to seek help for mental health challenges, while calling for greater support from adults and health systems. The final product included a suicide prevention toolkit at jsonline.com/yourenotalone. The film premiered at a Milwaukee high school where 11 local mental health organizations staffed resource tables and offered on-site counseling for an audience of more than 200.

“You’re Not Alone” was beautifully produced and stunning visually. Having the young people speak their truth in their own words was powerful. There is no doubt in my mind that the result of this work is living up to its name, providing strength to those with disabilities (and) reassuring them that you are not alone,” said contest judge Susannah Frame, chief investigative reporter for KING 5 Television in Seattle.  Liannane will receive $5,000 and is invited to the Cronkite School to give a public lecture on Dec. 2, 2019.

Second place in the small media market category was awarded to The Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina, for We dined with wheelchair users at 4 of Charleston’s top lunch spots. Here’s what they experienced. Food critic Hanna Raskin had not fully considered the obstacles posed by physical barriers until a group of wheelchair users invited her to a meeting. The diners were concerned about not being able to fully enjoy the city’s celebrated food scene. Raskin proposed that the group visit four celebrated local restaurants at random while she documented their experiences. The end result was a piece highlighting numerous accessibility issues. The restaurant owners were swift to respond, pledging to address the issues. Raskin will receive $2,000.

Third place in the small media market category was awarded to Criminalizing disability by Ed Williams, a reporter for Searchlight New Mexico. Williams asked why so many of the state’s special education students ended up in police custody. In collaboration with the local ABC news affiliate, Williams interviewed more than 300 parents, including the mother of Sebastian Montaño, a smart, promising but behaviorally challenged youngster who never received legally required services for his autism. The New Mexico state Legislature conducted hearings and directed the Legislative Education Study Committee to investigate. Williams will receive $1,000.

Honorable mention in the small media market category was awarded to Fighting for Personal Attendants at the Texas State Capitol by investigative reporter Edgar Walters of The Texas Tribune. When Walters learned that Texas lawmakers planned to spend $23 million on a negligible pay raise for personal attendants, he connected with advocate Susie Angel, a woman living with cerebral palsy. His piece explored Angel’s quest for additional funding for her personal attendant who allows her to live independently and has become a close friend. Walters will receive $500.

In addition to Frame, the judges for the small media market awards were Jennifer LaFleur, data editor for American University Investigative Reporting Workshop; Susan LoTempio, NCDJ Advisory Board member and former newspaper editor; and Leon Dash, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who is a professor of journalism at the University of Illinois.

The Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability was established in 2013 with the support of Schneider, a retired clinical psychologist who has been blind since birth and who also supports the national Schneider Family Book Awards. The reporting contest is administered by the National Center on Disability and Journalism at the Cronkite School.

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

NCDJ Accepting Entries in Annual Disability Reporting Contest

The Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability
The Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability

The National Center on Disability and Journalism at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is now accepting entries for the 2019 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 $17,000 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 $5,000 and are invited to the Cronkite School to give a public lecture in fall 2019. Second-place winners will receive $2,000; third-place winners receive $1,000; and honorable mention winners are awarded $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, 2018, and July 31, 2019. The deadline to enter is Aug. 5, 2019. 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; and former Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter Leon Dash.

The 2018 winners included journalists from National Public Radio; Dallas Morning News; ProPublica; WNYC/New York Public Radio; Kaiser Health News; KING Television, Seattle; WBEZ Chicago Public Media; and New Mobility Magazine.

The Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability is administered each year by the NCDJ. 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,” Schneider 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 in both English and Spanish.

Toyota’s $4 million competition to re-invent the wheelchair

Phoenix Ai is an ultra-lightweight, self-balancing, smart wheelchair
Phoenix Ai, a finalist in the competition, is an ultra-lightweight, self-balancing, intelligent wheelchair.

Toyota announced five finalists for its Mobility Unlimited Challenge at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas yesterday. Launched in 2017, the Mobility Unlimited Challenge is a contest that invites engineers, inventors, and designers from around the world to rethink the conventional wheelchair and develop a new way for people with lower-limb paralysis to get around. Each of the finalists will receive a grant of $500,000 to develop their concept further, with the final winner receiving $1 million in Tokyo in 2020.

Click here to read more about the competition online, or click here to download a PDF file of Toyota’s press release.

Congratulations to Winners of the 2018 Ruderman Awards for Excellence in Reporting on Disability and the Katherine Schneider Medal!

The Ruderman Awards are the only journalism contest devoted exclusively to recognizing excellence in the coverage of people with disabilities and disability issues.

A major investigation by NPR into the hidden epidemic of sexual violence against people with intellectual disabilities won the top honor. In addition to NPR, journalists from eight organizations won awards, including The Dallas Morning News, ProPublica Illinois, WNYC, Kaiser Health News, KING-TV, Better Government Association/WBEZ and New Mobility.

The Katherine Schneider Medal is an honor recognizing disability journalism by small media outlets. The contest continues the work of Katherine Schneider, a retired clinical psychologist, who launched the first NCDJ awards program.

2018 Winners: Ruderman Awards for Excellence in Reporting on Disability

1st place – National Public Radio
“Abuse and Betrayal”
Joseph Shapiro, Robert Little, Meg Anderson

Joseph Shapiro is an NPR News Investigations correspondent who has covered disability stories since 1987. His recent investigations have exposed the overuse of seclusion and restraint for students with disabilities and the failure of government to enforce the rights of people with disabilities to receive long-term care at home.

Meg Anderson is a producer on the NPR investigations team, where she has contributed to award-winning work on maternal care, housing and immigration issues. Before earning her graduate degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she became intimately familiar with the power of language and storytelling as a bilingual third grade teacher in Minneapolis.

Robert Little

Robert Little leads NPR's investigations team. He works with reporters, producers, and editors to develop investigative stories for all of NPR's broadcast and digital platforms, and also oversees partnerships with other non-profit news organizations doing high-level investigative work. Before joining NPR, Little spent 15 years as a reporter and editor at The Baltimore Sun. He's won numerous local and national journalism awards, including the George Polk Award for his investigative reporting in Iraq. 


2nd place – Dallas Morning News
“Pain and Profit”
J. David McSwane, Andrew Chavez

J. David McSwane is an investigative reporter for The Dallas Morning News, where he's focused on a variety of issues including the state's broken child welfare and healthcare systems. He is a recipient of the Peabody Award and Texas APME's top honor for investigative work, among others.
Andrew Chavez is a senior computational journalist on the data and interactives team at The Dallas Morning News. Before that, he worked at the Austin American-Statesman and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He graduated from Texas Christian University in 2008.

3rd place – ProPublica Illinois
“Stuck Kids”
Duaa Eldeib, Sandhya Kambhampati, Vignesh Ramachandran, David Eads

Duaa Eldeib is a reporter for ProPublica Illinois. Her work has examined the death of children in state care, the treatment of juveniles in adult court and police use of polygraphs in cases where suspects were wrongly convicted. Before joining ProPublica, she was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. There, Eldeib and two colleagues were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting in 2015.
Sandhya Kambhampati is a data reporter at ProPublica Illinois, focused on analyzing statistics, databases and public records to uncover structural issues and abuses. Most recently, she co-reported on the widespread inaccuracies in Cook County's property tax assessment system, which was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Local Reporting in 2018.
Vignesh Ramachandran is a producer at ProPublica Illinois, focused on digital production, design and editorial workflow. He is also interested in exploring issues surrounding race, criminal justice and technology. Before he joined ProPublica, he was a founding member of the Stanford Computational Journalism Lab and managing editor of Bay Area local news startup Peninsula Press (in partnership with SFGate and KQED).
David Eads
David Eads is a news applications developer at ProPublica Illinois, where he combines journalism with software development. While in college David helped found the Invisible Institute, where he also maintained a blog about Chicago public housing called The View From The Ground. He’s also worked on visual journalism teams at the Chicago Tribune and, most recently, at NPR Visuals.

Honorable Mention – WNYC
“Aftereffect”
Audrey Quinn, Host; Aneri Pattani, Producer; Phoebe Wang, Producer

Audrey Quinn is a reporter at New York Public Radio, WNYC and host of the WNYC Studios podcast Aftermath. She also teaches documentary audio reporting at the NYU School of Journalism. Audrey’s investigative work has been awarded by the Newswomen’s Club of New York, the Fund for Investigative Journalism and The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund and published by the New York Times and the Center for Investigative Reporting.
Aneri Pattani is a health reporter at The Philadelphia Inquirer, where she covers health issues in young people. In the past, she has worked as an assistant producer on the health team at WNYC, a James Reston reporting fellow on the health/science desk at The New York Times, and a reporting companion to columnist Nicholas Kristof in Liberia. She has also written for The Boston Globe, The Texas Tribune, CNBC, and The Hartford Courant.
Phoebe Wang
Phoebe Wang is the assistant producer of Aftereffect, and a multidisciplinary artist based between Brooklyn, NY and Toronto, ON. Phoebe was a member of The Heart audio art project, and was most recently Senior Producer of The Shadows, a CBC fiction podcast. In 2018, she was awarded an NLJGA Excellence in Journalism Award and was named Best New Artist at the Third Coast International Audio Festival.

 


2018 Winners: Katherine Schneider Medal

1st place – Kaiser Health News
“Nowhere to Go”
Christina Jewett

Christina Jewett, Senior Correspondent with the KHN enterprise team, covers end-of-life and acute care. She spent seven years with The Center for Investigative Reporting, where she worked on a series that uncovered widespread graft in Medicaid-funded drug rehab centers. At CIR she and colleagues won a George Polk Award for medical reporting.

 


2nd place – KING Television
“Back of the Class”
Susannah Frame, Taylor Mirfendereski, Ryan Coe

Susannah Frame is the Chief Investigative Reporter at KING 5 Television. Her work has garnered many of the country’s top journalism awards, including the Peabody Award, a National Edward R. Murrow Award and the du-Pont Columbia Award. Her pursuit of the truth has resulted in many changes in public policy.
Taylor Mirfendereski is a special projects reporter at KING 5 in Seattle, specializing in digital storytelling and long-term investigations. Her reporting has exposed many wrongs, including the mistreatment of wounded soldiers and the violation of state and federal special education laws. Her work has garnered a number of awards, including a National Mark of Excellence Award, an Edward R. Murrow Award and various regional awards from the Society of Professional Journalists.

 


3rd place – WBEZ Chicago Public Media, Better Government Association
“Trapped”
Alejandra Cancino, Odette Yousef

Alejandra Cancino is an investigative reporter at Better Government Association. She was a 2015-2016 journalism fellow at the The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research based at the University of Chicago. Prior to the Tribune she worked at The Palm Beach Post. Alejandra is the president of the Chicago Headline Club, the largest chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Odette Yousef is a WBEZ reporter covering immigration, race and class. In 2016, Odette was part of a team at WBEZ to win a National Edward R. Murrow Award for best Continuing Coverage of how local officials in Puerto Rico were sending drug addicts to unlicensed therapy groups in Chicago, with false promises of professional treatment. She has contributed to NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, PRI’s The World and WNYC’s The Takeaway. 

 


Honorable Mention – New Mobility Magazine
“Flying the Unfriendly Skies”
Kenny Salvini

Kenny Salvini is a writer, advocate and community organizer living in Sumner, Washington. An elite athlete who became paralyzed from the neck down after a snow skiing accident in 2004, he turned to writing to help piece back together his fractured identity. He is active in the paralysis community and in 2013, he launched The Here and Now Project, a social support network for paralysis survivors and their families in the Northwest.