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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.

 

 

 

NCDJ in the news!

AZCentral.com columnist Karina Bland discusses Amy Silverman’s experience updating our 2018 Disability Language Style Guide (thank you, Amy!) Read the article here.

NCDJ

You can check out the web version of our style guide here.

Click here to download the 2018 NCDJ Disability Language Style Guide as a PDF.

Judy Woodruff, anchor and managing editor of the PBS NewsHour, shares her thoughts about fair and accurate coverage of people living with disabilities and the important work being done by the National Center on Disability and Journalism at Arizona State University.

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 http://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.

NCDJ award ceremony Monday, Nov 27 at ASU’s Cronkite School

Supporters of disability journalism are encouraged to join ASU and NCDJ members this coming Monday, November 27th when we present the 2017 Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability to winners Michael J. Berens and Patricia Callahan. The ceremony will include a panel discussion with the winners hosted by media scholar Leon Dash. The ceremony and panel will also feature contest honorable mention winner Belo Cipriani who won for his series titled “Seeing in the Dark.” This is a free, public event and will feature a Q&A session at the end of the panel discussion. We hope you can make it!

EVENT DATE: Monday, November 27 at 7pm

EVENT LOCATION:  ASU’s Walter Cronkite School for Journalism and Mass Communication, 555 N. Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004.

Ford Foundation sharpens focus on sponsoring disability rights

A new essay by the Ford Foundation’s Program Officer, Noorain F. Khan, outlines their expanding  philanthropic initiatives to support disability rights. Below is an excerpt from the essay. Click on the heading to read the full essay and learn more about all the excellent disability-related organizations they’re sponsoring, including the NCDJ.

Why disability rights are central to social justice work—and what we’re doing about it

Last fall, Darren Walker wrote an essay urging all of us to acknowledge our personal biases, and to understand how those biases can fuel injustice and inequality. Darren’s call grew out of his own awakening: the realization, brought to light by friends and activists, that for all the foundation’s attention to challenging inequality, we hadn’t accounted for the huge community of people living with disabilities. It was a humbling moment, he wrote.

As the past year has shown, it has also proven to be a consequential one. It quickly became clear that our focus on inequality demands that we think seriously about disability issues. It became equally clear that across all our programs, the specific outcomes and goals we’re working to achieve simply cannot be accomplished without addressing the needs, concerns, and priorities of people with disabilities. And so, guided by the disability movement’s mantra, “nothing about us without us,” we’ve been working to confront ableism and expand participation and inclusion on both the institutional and individual levels. It turned out we had a lot to learn.

As the program officer in the office of the president, I steward some of the foundation’s exploratory grant making under Darren’s direction, assessing and investing in new ideas that don’t yet have a home elsewhere in the foundation. Among those efforts, I lead our exploration of how inequality impacts the more than one billion people with disabilities around the world. Over the past year, I’ve met with more than 80 activists, leaders, self-advocates, and funders who focus on people with disabilities. It has been a profound privilege to spend time with and learn from them, and the result has been what I believe is some of the most urgent and meaningful work of my professional life. (Click here to continue reading…)

Chicago Tribune Wins 2017 Disability Reporting Award

A Chicago Tribune investigation into the mistreatment of disabled adults in Illinois group homes won the top honor in the 2017 Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability, the only journalism awards competition devoted exclusively to disability reporting.

In “Suffering in Secret,” Tribune reporters Michael J. Berens and Patricia Callahan identified more than 1,300 cases of documented harm since July 2011 in Illinois’ taxpayer-funded group homes and their day programs. The reporters uncovered at least 42 deaths linked to abuse or neglect in group homes or their day programs and uncovered state records of residents fatally choking on improperly prepared food, succumbing to untreated bed sores and languishing in pain from undiagnosed ailments.

Second place went to the Brian M. Rosenthal of the Houston Chronicle. Third place was awarded to Mona Yeh, Sonya Green and Yuko Kodama for reports aired on Seattle-Tacoma public radio station 91.3 KBCS, and honorable mention went to Belo Cipriani of The Bay Area Reporter.

“PBS NewsHour” anchor Judy Woodruff, who served as a judge, noted that the Chicago Tribune’s investigation had real consequences in Illinois, where state officials vowed increased transparency and oversight of taxpayer-funded group homes and legislators are considering laws to force reforms. The license of one group home provider highlighted in the series was revoked, and residents were moved to other facilities. “The amount of time that went into this project and what the reporters were able to uncover just blew me away,” Woodruff said.

The three-part series was a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting as well as the winner of the Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism and an Investigative Reporters and Editors Award in 2016.

Berens and Callahan will accept the first-place award and a $5,000 cash prize Nov. 27 at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, where they also will deliver a public talk on their work. Their appearance, which is part of the school’s “Must See Mondays” lecture series, will be at 7 p.m. in the school’s First Amendment Forum. It is free of charge and open to the public, and sign language interpreting and captioning services will be provided.

The second place Schneider award and a $1,500 prize were awarded to Rosenthal of the Houston Chronicle for an investigation that revealed how Texas officials systematically denied special education services to thousands of children. The seven-part series, “Denied,” found that Texas placed a cap on how many children could receive special education services, saving billions of dollars but denying services to children with disabilities ranging from epilepsy and blindness to autism and attention deficit disorder.

Judges said they were shocked by Rosenthal’s revelations. The state’s actions, they said, showed a complete disregard for children with disabilities and their families.

Third place and a $500 prize went to Yeh, Green and Kodama for two radio pieces chronicling the experiences of one wheelchair user trying to navigate public transportation in Seattle. “Dorian Wants Transit Policy Toward Disabled Persons to Change,” aired on the Seattle-Tacoma public radio station 91.3 KBCS and was supported by the Association of Independents in Radio.

Cipriani, who is blind, received an honorable mention and a $250 prize for a series, “Seeing in the Dark,” published in the Bay Area Reporter. Cipriani writes about the disabled community in the Bay Area, challenging stereotypes about disability ranging from sex to parenting.

Judge Tony Coelho, a former six-term U.S. congressman from California and the primary sponsor of the Americans With Disabilities Act, said Cipriani is an important voice and one of a growing number of people with disabilities who are “writing about the everyday lives of people with disabilities.” Too often, he said, reporting on disabilities is “about us” rather than “by us.”

In addition to Coelho and Woodruff, the judges for this year’s contest were Pulitzer Prize-winning former Washington Post reporter Leon Dash, now Swanlund Chair Professor of Journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Jennifer Longdon, a Phoenix-based writer, speaker, advocate and policy adviser on issues related to disability.

The Schneider Award 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.

Since 2013, the top Schneider Awards have gone to Ryan Gabrielson of California Watch, Dan Barry of The New York Times, Heather Vogell of ProPublica and Chris Serres of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Woodruff wins Cronkite Award and thanks NCDJ

Judy Woodruff received the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism today during a ceremony in downtown Phoenix. The annual award is given to a prominent journalist who embodies the integrity and impeccable professionalism of Cronkite himself. This year’s award was given to Woodruff and her late PBS NewsHour co-anchor Gwen Ifill. Ifill’s brother accepted the award on her behalf.

Woodruff gave an inspiring acceptance speech that can be seen on the Cronkite School’s online Vimeo channel HERE. She encouraged young reporters to pursue investigative journalism and credited the mainstream media for breaking recent headline news about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment scandal and lobbying by the drug industry.

Woodruff also thanked the National Center for Disability Journalism for its work promoting awareness of disability stories. Listen for Woodruff’s kind remarks about the NCDJ and its director Kristin Gilger at minute 4:07 of her speech.

Romanian mother resolves to change disability language in her country

By Jenna Miller

Nine years ago when Ruxandra Mateescu’s daughter, Olga, was born with special needs, she was stunned at the lack of information and the gaps in care.

“When Olga was born I tried to look up with Google what retarded means because the doctor said when she grew up she would be retarded or maybe dead or a vegetable. He used words like that,” Mateescu said in a Skype interview.

Mateescu lives in Bucharest, the capital city of Romania and is fluent in both English and Romanian. People with disabilities don’t have many rights in Romania, and much of the public is uninformed about disability issues, “like the fifties in the United States,” she said.

In addition, the Romanian health care system is difficult to navigate, Mateescu said, and she couldn’t figure out where to go to get more information about her child. Even after nine years and many doctors visits, Olga has never had an official diagnosis to classify her disability.

A journalist who worked for a parenting website, Mateescu did what came to her naturally: She started blogging about her daughter, their lives and the struggles she faced trying to find information and support. Other parents responded and asked her to keep writing. She now runs a website that features stories of people with disabilities and their families.

“I started writing when I was very angry, so my writing was very angry on everybody,” she said. “Many of them [other parents] told me that I was courageous… I don’t know.”

Mateescu said it was taboo in her country to even talk about disabilities when she started her blog, but the situation is slowly improving. Now there are more blogs devoted to the subject and mainstream media also has begun to show interest. However, Mateescu calls most of the reporting shallow and says the focus is “on the pity element.” Pejorative language and offensive terms are still common in mainstream news both on television and in newspapers.

“If experienced journalists are doing that, they don’t realize that it is wrong,” she said “Somebody has to say, it’s not okay– this is how you do it.”

One day Mateescu was searching the internet for resources on disability issues and she happened upon the National Center on Disability and Journalism’s style guide, which provides guidance on words and terms related to disability. She thought it would be a great help to journalists and communicators in her country, but there was a problem: The English language guide would have to be translated into Romanian.

She started by sending an email to the center at Arizona State University asking for permission to undertake a translation. “I wrote and I said, ‘Well, they will never answer back they are huge,’ and I received the email one morning, and I was like ‘Wow, they answered.’ We are not used to that reaction of kindness.”

Across the world in Phoenix, Arizona, NCDJ Director Kristin Gilger said she had long hoped to have the guide, which contains almost 100 words and terms, translated into other languages. She immediately said yes.

Mateescu then put out a call on social media for help. Seven volunteers responded — friends, relatives and even an English teacher who happened to be her manicurist’s husband. Together they combed through the guide. Some words didn’t translate or didn’t exist in Romanian. For those, the group did their best to supply the closest Romanian approximation. They worked quickly. It took one week to translate the guide and another to check it and get it ready for publication.

Once completed, Mateescu tried to get the style guide out to as many people as possible by posting it on her website and on social media. She said she immediately starting getting “likes” and “shares.” She is now setting up meetings with journalists and parents to discuss the guide and advocate for its use by Romanian journalists.

Along with improvements in language, Mateescu hopes to see more investigative stories about the lack of support and infrastructure for people with disabilities in her country. According to a report compiled by the Academic Network of European Disability Experts, 24 percent of children with disabilities in Romania are not registered for any form of education. The 24 percent includes Mateescu’s daughter, Olga.

The situation isn’t much better for adults with disabilities. The same report shows that fewer than 16 percent of people with disabilities are employed. It is common for people to stop and stare at people with visible disabilities in public. And Mateescu says it’s almost impossible for people with physical disabilities to get around her home city of Bucharest. Many public buildings, busses and metro stations don’t have elevators or ramps, and most homes are difficult to get into and out of for those using wheelchairs.

Mateescu says it is painful to think about the challenges her daughter will face when she grows up, but she tries to focus on fighting for the things she can change.

“I don’t know if my daughter will have some benefits from that, but, for sure, the next generation of parents will be much better off than my generation is now,” she said.

NCDJ featured in CJR article on tips for covering disability beat

Wendy Lu from the Columbia Journalism Review interviewed NCDJ Director Kristin Gilger about this site’s advice for covering disability beats. Some top recommendations include being wary of “inspiration porn” and avoiding words that “assume a negative relationship between people and their disabilities (e.g. wheelchair-bound).” Check out more tips from the article by clicking HERE.