The Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability

The 2020 Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability contest will reopen in late spring.

2019 Contest Rules:
Entries were be published or aired between July 1, 2018, and July 31, 2019. Entries were accepted from print, broadcast or online-only publications. Entries were accepted from outside of the U.S., although the work submitted was in English.
The deadline to enter was Aug. 5, 2019.

Large Media Market Awards
Large includes: Radio—top 20 radio market size (according to Nielsen ratings); Television—network or syndicated TV and Top 20 markets; Print—150,000 circulation or greater (largest single day, including digital replica); and wire services; and magazines, weeklies and online-only media with a primary focus on a regional or national audience.
Small Media Market Awards
Small includes: Radio—below top 20 radio market size (according to Nielsen ratings); Television—below Top 20 markets; Print—150,999 circulation (largest single day, including digital replica); and magazines, weeklies and online-only media with a primary focus on a state, city, metro area or county.

Entries are judged by professional journalists and experts on disability issues based on the following criteria.

  • Explore and illuminate key legal or judicial issues regarding the treatment of people with disabilities;
  • Explore and illuminate government policies and practices regarding disabilities;
  • Explore and illuminate practices of private companies and organizations regarding disabilities;
  • Go beyond the ordinary in conveying the challenges experienced by people living with disabilities and strategies for meeting these challenges;
  • Offer balanced accounts of key points of controversy in the field and provide useful information to the general public;
  • Special consideration will be given to entries that are accessible to those with disabilities. For example, broadcast pieces that are available in transcript form and text stories that are accessible to screen readers. All entries will be published on the NCDJ website in accessible formats.

2019 Winners

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.

Photo of ProPublica reporter Joaquin Sapien
Joaquin Sapien

Since joining ProPublica in May 2008, reporter Joaquin Sapien has delved into criminal justice, military healthcare, and environmental issues. In 2010 he partnered with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune to produce an award-winning series of stories about contaminated drywall. In 2009 he was part of a team whose work on natural gas drilling won the Society of Professional Journalists award for online non-deadline investigative reporting. From 2005 until 2008 he was a reporter for the Center for Public Integrity, where he led a year-long investigative project, “Superfund’s Toxic Legacy,” which received the 2007 Society of Professional Journalists award for non-deadline online reporting. Before joining CPI, Sapien wrote for Environmental Media Services.

Photo of Tom Jennings from PBS
Tom Jennings
Independent Filmmaker, PBS Frontline

Tom Jennings is a journalist-filmmaker and is currently directing “The Right To Fail,” about a man with schizophrenia whose life parallels the deinstitutionalization of mental health care in the U.S., for PBS Frontline. As a documentary director he’s received the George Polk Award, the Emmy Award, the duPont-Columbia Silver Baton, the Overseas Press Club Award, the Edward R. Murrow Award, the Online News Association Award and the Writers Guild of America Award. He teaches filmmaking and investigative reporting at NYU, and from 2016-18 he was director of the Logan Nonfiction Program, a residency for journalists and documentary filmmakers at the Carey Institute for Global Good in upstate New York.

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.

Photo of Audrey Quinn of Radiolab
Audrey Quinn

Audrey Quinn is an audio reporter and editor. She also teaches documentary audio reporting at the NYU School of Journalism, and was a recent Rosalynn Carter Fellow in Mental Health Journalism. Her investigations have looked into abusive residential care for developmentally disabled adults, the inadequacy of public services for those adults, and unaccounted deaths in county jails.

Third place in the large media market category was awarded to Unfit by Radiolab.

Photo of Matt Kielty from Radiolab
Matt Kielty
Radio Lab

Matt Kielty started at Radiolab as an intern. Now he works as a Senior Producer. Around and in-between those two things, he lived in Minnesota, attended the University of Arizona, lived in Washington D.C., learned radio from Rob Rosenthal at the Salt Institute for Documentaries Studies, hung around This American Life and was awarded the Above the Fray fellowship to report in Uganda.

Photo of Senior Editor, WNYC Studios Pat Walters
Pat Walters
Radio Lab

Pat Walters is a senior editor at WNYC Studios. He started out at the show in 2010 as a production assistant, became a producer, and spent about five years on staff making stories, covering a variety of topics. He left for a few years to edit Pop-Up Magazine, the world’s first “live magazine;” host a podcast at Gimlet Media called Undone; and help create the Peabody Award-winning podcast Uncivil with Jack Hitt and Chenjerai Kumanyika.

Photo of Lulu Miller, Radiolab
Photo credit: Kristen Finn

Lulu Miller

Lulu Miller has been an NPR reporter for over 15 years, first for Radiolab, then as the cofounder of Invisibilia. She mainly covers stories on science, nature, disability, and mental health. Her written work has been published in the New Yorker, VQR, Orion, Electric Literature, and beyond. Her first book, Why Fish Don’t Exist, a nonfiction thriller about the dangers of trying to order the world, is forthcoming in April 2020 from Simon & Schuster.

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.

Mary Jo Pitzl of the Arizona Republic.
Mary Jo Pitzl
The Arizona Republic

Mary Jo Pitzl is a senior reporter at The Arizona Republic / covering child-welfare issues. Her work has focused on gaps in the systems set up to protect kids and keep families together. She is a graduate of the University Nebraska-Lincoln and helps to run the Best in the West regional journalism contest, supporting First Amendment causes.

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.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter for Ideas Lab, Rory Linnane. Photo by Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Rory Linnane
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel & Milwaukee PBS

Rory Linnane writes about public health issues for Ideas Lab, a solutions journalism effort at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Recently, Linnane has led coverage of youth mental health issues for Gannett’s USA Today Network-Wisconsin newspaper chain, collaborated with Milwaukee PBS producers on You’re Not Alone, a half-hour documentary based on Gannett’s extensive reporting for its series Kids in Crisis.

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.

Photo of Hannah Raskin hiding behind a tall seafood platter.
Hannah Raskin
The Post and Courier

Hanna Raskin is The Post and Courier’s food editor and chief critic; she also writes about regional food history and culture for Garden & Gun, Southern Living and Gravy. Her work has been recognized by the Association of Alternative Newsmedia; the International Association of Culinary Professionals and the James Beard Foundation, which in 2017 awarded her its first Local Impact Journalism prize. In 2013, she published “Yelp Help: How to Write Great Online Restaurant Reviews,” which received an M.F.K. Fisher Award from Les Dames Escoffier International. Raskin is the president of the Association of Food Journalists.

Third place in the small media market category was awarded to Criminalizing disability by Ed Williams, a reporter for Searchlight New Mexico.

Photo of Ed Williams from Searchlight New Mexico.
Ed Williams
Searchlight New Mexico

Ed Williams has reported on poverty, public health, education and the environment in the U.S. and Latin America for digital, print and radio media outlets since 2005. Ed’s work has appeared in The Guardian, NPR, Columbia Journalism Review, the Austin American-Statesman, and others. He earned a Master’s in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin in 2010.

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.

Photo of Edgar Walters of the Texas Tribune.
Edgar Walters
Texas Tribune

Walters is an investigative reporter covering health and human services for the Texas Tribune, where he started as an intern in 2013. Previously, he had a political reporting fellowship with the Berliner Zeitung, a daily newspaper in Berlin. Walters is a graduate of the Plan II Honors Program at The University of Texas at Austin, where he worked as an editor for The Daily Texan.