Winners announced for Excellence in Disability Reporting awards

The National Center on Disability and Journalism (NCDJ) today announced the winners of the 2023 Katherine Schneider Journalism Award and the Gary Corcoran Student Prize for Excellence in Reporting on Disability.

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

First place in the Schneider Award Large Media category goes to Beth Hundsdorfer of Capitol News Illinois and Molly Parker of Lee Enterprises Midwest for “Culture of Cruelty,” an investigative series produced as part of ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network. Their work uncovered abuse, neglect and misconduct at state-run facilities in Illinois that are supposed to care for people with mental and developmental disabilities.

Placing second in the Large Media category is former New York Times reporter Amanda Morris for her innovative look at how American Sign Language has been transformed by video technology and social media. Morris, now a disability reporter at The Washington Post, is a child of deaf adults who uses hearing aids and learned ASL at home. She conducted many of the interviews for the piece in sign language.

Third place in the Large Media category goes to Christine Herman for her Side Effects Public Media story, produced in audio and text, examining the barriers families face in finding appropriate mental health care for children and teens. The piece was co-published by the Center for Public Integrity as part of its collaboration with The Carter Center and newsrooms across the U.S. to enhance mental health care coverage.

The judges awarded an honorable mention to Romita Saluja, an independent journalist based in Delhi, for her piece about the prevalence of pelvic organ prolapse in rural India, where stigma and patriarchal attitudes make accessing care an immense challenge.

In the Schneider Award Small Media category, first place honors go to Caroline Ghisolfi, Tony Plohetski and Nicole Foy of the Austin American-Statesman for “Disabled & Abandoned,” which found that Texas’ system of care for people with disabilities is beset by crisis and violence. Like other NCDJ contest winners, the Statesman took steps to ensure the reporting was accessible to people with disabilities. Graphics were made accessible to colorblind readers, videos included closed captioning, and stories included a listening option.

Illustrator John Greiner placed second in the Small Media category for his comic series “Tales to Demystify: Not Welcome Here.” Published by Signal Cleveland, the series looks at accessible housing in Cleveland, Ohio, and explores what makes a home accessible for someone who uses a wheelchair or a walker.

Placing third in this category is Jennifer Dixon of the Detroit Free Press for “Rights & Wrongs,” which reveals how psychiatric hospitals and community mental health agencies in Michigan are allowed to investigate themselves when someone complains that rights have been violated.

The Corcoran Award recognizes student journalists covering issues related to disability. This year’s first place prize goes to Meagan Gillmore, a graduate student at Carleton University in Ottawa. Her winning entry, published in Toronto-based The Walrus, looks at criticism among people with disabilities over assisted dying laws in Canada.

Second place goes to Julia Métraux for a piece that stemmed from a climate change course she took at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. The story, published in the Richmond Pulse, examines the effect of climate change on people with lupus.

Placing third are Erin Gretzinger, Christy Klein and Erin McGroarty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison for a story that explores past, present and future efforts, as well as challenges, to serve people with disabilities in Wisconsin.

The 2023 NCDJ contests garnered almost 200 entries from around the globe, including from journalists in Brazil, Uganda and Pakistan.

“This work is an extraordinary testament to the growing global commitment to prioritize and improve coverage of people with disabilities,” said Pauline Arrillaga, executive director of the National Center on Disability and Journalism and executive editor of Carnegie-Knight News21, both housed at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

Judges for this year’s awards included Kathryn Bertine, an author, athlete and documentary filmmaker; Kristin Gilger, former executive director of NCDJ and emeritus faculty at the Cronkite School; Jennifer LaFleur, assistant professor of data journalism at UC Berkeley; Sara Luterman, caregiving reporter at The 19th; Jonathan Poet, deputy health and science editor at The Associated Press; Sada Reed, assistant professor at the Cronkite School; and Karina Sturm, a multimedia journalist and filmmaker from Germany.

Winners are invited to discuss their work during a Nov. 9  ceremony in the First Amendment Forum at the Cronkite School in downtown Phoenix. The event, which is open to the public, also will be live streamed.​​

NCDJ Names New Executive Director

Pauline Arrillaga has been named executive director of the National Center on Disability and Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

Arriillaga, executive editor of the Carnegie-Knight News21 program at the Cronkite School, will take over for Kristin Gilger, who has led the NCDJ since 2008 and is retiring this summer. Arrillaga joined the Cronkite School in 2019 as a professor of practice to launch and direct the  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Southwest Health Reporting Initiative. She moved to News21 in December to lead the award-winning program, which brings top journalism students from across the country to report and produce in-depth, multimedia projects for major media outlets. Previously, Arrillaga spent 27 years at The Associated Press – most recently as U.S. enterprise editor.

In addition, Cronkite Professor Nicole Macias will oversee the NCDJ’s international journalism awards programs, which recognize excellence in disability reporting.

See the full announcement here.

Disability Reporting Prizes Awarded

Each year, the National Center on Disability and Journalism recognizes the best reporting on disability being done around the world. The 2022 winners, which include BuzzFeed News, the Los Angeles Times and NPR, among others, can be found here.  

Annual prizes are awarded in both professional and student categories. The Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability honors professional journalists in both small media and large media categories. The Gary Corcoran Student Prize for Excellence in Reporting on Disability recognizes the work of college student journalists.

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

The 2023 contest will open for entries in May 2023.


NCDJ and The New York Times Renew Disability Reporting Fellowship

The National Center on Disability and Journalism is partnering for a third year with The New York Times on a fellowship to develop journalists with an expertise in coverage of disability issues.

Early career journalists are encouraged to apply for the one-year fellowship to cover disability issues and people with disabilities as part of the incoming New York Times Fellowship class.

The Disability Journalism Fellowship is designed to address the lack of coverage of disability issues in journalism. It will provide fellows with mentorship, a peer network and training on covering disabilities. The position is funded through the Ford Foundation’s philanthropic support.

Applications will be accepted through March 24.

For more information, see the full release.

Disability News

Should the term “special education” be retired? (Read more)

Julia Métraux writes about the use of the term “special education” in an article for the NCDJ. An independent reporter and graduate student at University of California-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, Métraux makes an appeal to education reporters to find alternatives, even if school officials continue to use the language, which, she says, reinforces the view that disabled kids’ needs are “special.”

Political debates expand access to the Deaf community (Read more)

Arizona State University journalism graduate student Jordan Gerard describes the challenges of interpreting a candidate debate, which can be a sort of verbal ping-pong match between political opponents, filled with emotion and nuance. But without such services, millions of people who have hearing disabilities would be disenfranchised.

New York Times Names New Disability Reporting Fellow

Neelam Bohra was named as the New York Times disability reporting fellow in partnership with the National Center on Disability and Journalism. Neelam is immunocompromised and received a kidney transplant in 2019 from an altruistic donor who is also a journalist. She graduated this spring from the University of Texas at Austin, where she studied journalism and government. Read more about her here.

NCDJ Releases Updated Disability Language Style Guide

The National Center on Disability and Journalism at Arizona State University has released an updated version of its disability language style guide in both English and Spanish for journalists and professionals who report or write about people living with disabilities.

The guide offers information and advice on nearly 100 commonly used words or terms — from “able-bodied” to “wheelchair-bound.”

For the full story: https://ncdj.org/2021/09/ncdj-releases-updated-disability-language-style-guide/

To access the guide: https://ncdj.org/style-guide/

Panel To Feature Journalists Talking About Disability

The National Center on Disability and Journalism and the National Press Photographers Association will host a panel discussion on journalism and disability Oct. 6 at 8:30 p.m. EST.  

The session will focus on how disabilities can affect those seeking to get ahead in the visual journalism industry, how to navigate careers with disabilities and how to improve media coverage of individuals with disabilities.

The session will be moderated by Kristin Gilger, director of the NCDJ and Reynolds Professor in Business Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

Date and Time: October 6th, 2021

8:30pm EST/5:30pm PST


Panelists are:

  • David Allbritton, senior photojournalist at CNN with over 30 years of experience in the news industry. In 1995, while covering the Balkan War for CNN in Sarajevo, he sustained life-threatening injuries when a 500-pound bomb blew up at the television center.
  • Ari Golub, staff photographer and visual storyteller for George Washington University’s student-run, independent paper, The GW Hatchet, and the President of GW’s Disabled Students Collective. He is an individual with autism.
  • Evan Halpop, a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he is majoring in journalism with an emphasis in broadcast, print and web. He lives with a form of autism and advocates for inclusion for all.
  • Amanda Morris, the first disability reporting fellow at The New York Times. She previously reported for The Arizona Republic in Phoenix and covered politics for The Associated Press. As someone with a hearing loss, she grew up regularly using American Sign Language with her two deaf parents.
  • Cara Reedy, program manager for Disability Media Alliance Project at the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF). She previously worked at CNN producing documentaries and writing for CNN digital, and she is the co-producer of a short documentary, “Dwarfism and Me,” which explores the treatment of Dwarfs in American society.
  • Bruce Thorson, associate professor at the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He previously spent 25 years in newspaper photojournalism. As a young man, he sustained permanent physical injuries in a motorcycle accident.
  • Linda Tirado, a freelance photojournalist who also is a book author and has written for The Guardian and The Daily Beast. She was shot in the face last year while covering the civil unrest that followed the police killing of George Floyd, leaving her partially blind.

Disability Journalism Awards to be Announced in Early October

The 2020-2021 contest for the Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability is closed for entries. Winners will be notified in early October and will be honored in a live-streamed event Nov. 1 from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

The Schneider Award is administered each year by the Cronkite School’s National Center on Disability and Journalism 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.

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

Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Disability Contest Closes August 7

Winners will receive a total of $8,000 in cash awards 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 and 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.

Entries must have been published or aired between July 1, 2020, and July 31, 2021. The deadline to enter is Aug. 7, 2021. There is no entry fee. For more information and to enter, go to https://ncdj.org/contest/.

Ford Foundation to Support The Times’s Disability Journalism Fellowship

Amanda Morris

The New York Times today announced that the Ford Foundation will fund its new Disability Journalism Fellowship.

The two-year program will recruit one early career journalist each year to work at The Times to produce stories that illuminate and explain issues that are relevant to the 19 percent of the U.S. population who currently live with a disability – and to countless others who care about them and these matters. The program will provide fellows with mentorship, a peer network and specialized training on how to cover disabilities. The nonprofit National Center for Disability and Journalism will serve as a training partner to the fellows and other members of the newsroom.

Ford is providing a $150,000 grant to create the new fellowship.

Amanda Morris, who previously worked as a bioscience reporter for The Arizona Republic, joined The New York Times as its first Disability Journalism Fellow in June. She identifies with the disability community as she was raised by profoundly deaf parents and has moderate to severe hearing loss.

The application for the 2022-23 fellowship will open this fall.

The Times will retain full editorial control over the fellows’ work. Funders will have no control over the selection or focus of stories. They will have no role in the editing process and will not review stories before publication.

The New York Times Fellowship is a talent pipeline program started in 2019 to seed and diversify the next generation of journalists in local newsrooms across America. It trains journalists in reporting, audio, visual and other disciplines.

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 80 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

The National Center on Disability and Journalism is a service of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. For the past 13 years at Cronkite, the center has provided support and training for journalists and other communications professionals with the goal of improving media coverage of disability issues and people with disabilities.

Philanthropies interested in learning more about The Times’s fellowship program should contact Sharon Chan, vice president of philanthropy, at Sharon.Chan@nytimes.com.