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Scripps Howard Awards names finalists; winners coming March 3, to be presented in Cinci on April 16

The Rural Blog

Climate change, investigative journalism and newsroom collaborations were frequent themes in the 2019 Scripps Howard Awards finalists announced this week, Rebecca Cochran reports. Several nominees had rural resonance; in the Community Journalism category, all three warrant mention.

Troubled Kids, Troubled System, from the Missoulian in Montana, examines reform schools in rural areas that often operate with little oversight. Some former students say teens were physically and sexually abused, and some teens died by suicide at the schools. The for-profit schools, which sometimes charge parents more than $100,000 a year, often are not overseen by mental-health, child-safety or education experts. None of the 58 complaints investigated by the state have resulted in significant disciplinary action against any program.

The Anchorage Daily News partnered with ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network to produce Lawless, a series that uncovered a sexual assault crisis in rural Alaska and how the lack of public-safety services makes it worse. After the series ran, U.S. Attorney General William Bar declared the lack of law enforcement in rural Alaska a federal emergency, and the Department of Justice has promised more than $52 million in federal funding to improve the situation. The U.S. attorney in Anchorage also announced the hiring of additional rural prosecutors, and Gov. Mike Dunleavy said the state will hire 15 additional state troopers.

The other Community Journalism nominee was MLK50, a Memphis non-profit reporting on economic justice, worked with ProPublica to produce Profiting from the Poor, a series that made the area’s largest hospital system stop its aggressive pursuit of the poor (including its employees) for unpaid bills, forgive nearly $12 million in debt and made discounted or free care easier to get.

In the Investigative Reporting category, the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News were nominated for their Abuse of Faith package, which put the Southern Baptist Convention under the spotlight for not adequately dealing with allegations of sexual abuse. As part of the package, they published a searchable database of church officials and volunteers who had been convicted of sex crimes or made plea deals with prosecutors.

The Washington Post was nominated in the Human Interest Storytelling category for The State of Health Care in Rural America, which illustrated the dire situation of rural health care through the story of a struggling hospital in Oklahoma.

The Post received seven nominations, the most of any news outlet. In the Multimedia category, it was nominated for its Gone in a Generation piece, which explored how global warming is already changing Americans’ lives, including farmers, hunters, and those who live in flood zones. 

In the Environmental Reporting category, What Can Be Saved? by The Associated Press was nominated for its wide-ranging reporting on the impact of climate change, including in Everglades National Park. Also nominated was The Oregonian’s Polluted by Money, which explored how corporate lobbying has weakened or halted state efforts to deal with environmental issues such as climate change, disappearing bird habitats, carcinogenic diesel exhaust, industrial air pollution, oil spill planning, and pesticides sprayed from helicopters.

One Disaster Away, about insufficient protections for vulnerable people as climate change worsens natural disasters, was nominated in the Topic of the Year category, The Impact of Climate Change on Communities. The series is a partnership between The Center for Public Integrity, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, High Country News, Ohio Valley ReSource (a public radio consortium in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia) and StateImpact Oklahoma.

In the Distinguished Service to the First Amendment category, the Orlando Sentinel scored a nomination for its Florida’s Fading Sunshine Laws package.

The winners will be announced March 3. The Scripps Howard Foundation, the philanthropic arm of E.W. Scripps Co., will present more than $170,000 in prize money to the winners on April 16 in Cincinnati. The awards program will be rebroadcast April 26 on Newsy and on Scripps television stations throughout the summer.

Complete list of finalists:

Breaking News:
Los Angeles Times – “Death off the Santa Barbara Coast”
The Washington Post – “The El Paso – Dayton Shooting”
San Francisco Chronicle – “Wildfire and Blackouts in Northern California”

Broadcast – Local Coverage
WFAA-TV (Dallas) – “Verify Road Trip: Climate Truth”
KARE-TV (Minneapolis) – “KARE 11 Investigates: Mission Critical”
KNXV-TV (Phoenix) – “Unlocked and Unsafe”

Broadcast – National/International Coverage
Al Jazeera – “The War on Afghan Women”
VICE News Tonight – “They Come For Us At Night: China’s Vanishing Muslims”
FRONTLINE PBS – “Flint’s Deadly Water”

Business/Financial Reporting
The Seattle Times – “Boeing’s 737 MAX Crisis”
ProPublica – “The TurboTax Trap”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – “Turned Away”

Community Journalism
Missoulian (Missoula, Montana) – “Troubled Kids, Troubled System”
MLK50: Justice Through Journalism (Memphis, Tennessee) and ProPublica – “Profiting From The Poor”
Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News – “Lawless”

Environmental Reporting
The Associated Press – “What Can Be Saved?”
The Oregonian/OregonLive (Portland) – “Polluted By Money”
The Seattle Times – “Hostile Waters: Orcas in Peril”

Distinguished Service to the First Amendment
Orlando (Florida) Sentinel – “Florida’s Fading Sunshine Laws”
The Post and Courier (Charleston, South Carolina) – “‘IT’S TIME FOR YOU TO DIE’: How Flaws in the South Carolina Prison System Led to 7 Deaths in a Single Night”
Bay Area News Group and the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley with McClatchy, MediaNews Group, USA Today Network, Voice of San Diego and Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting – “California’s Criminal Cops”

Human Interest Storytelling
The Washington Post – “Lives of Everyday Americans”
The Washington Post – “The State of Health Care in Rural America”
The Wall Street Journal – “The Agony of DNA Testing”

WBEZ Chicago Public Media – “Chicago Mayoral Election Questionnaire”
Newsy – “Newsy+Bellingcat”
The Washington Post – “The Mueller Report”

Investigative Reporting
ProPublica – “Disaster in the Pacific”
The Washington Post – “The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War”
Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News – “Abuse of Faith”

Multimedia Journalism
The Marshall Project with The Guardian – “Detained”
The Washington Post – “Gone in a Generation”
Vox – “These 3 Supertrees Can Protect Us From Climate Collapse”

Alabama Media Group – “Life, Politics and Corruption in Alabama”
Kaiser Health News – “America’s Broken Health Care System: Columns by Elisabeth Rosenthal”
The New York Times – “America Wasn’t a Democracy, Until Black Americans Made it One” by Nikole Hannah-Jones

American Public Media, APM Reports – “Uprooted”
Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting – “Amazon: Behind the Smiles”
The Public’s Radio (Rhode Island) – “A 911 Emergency”

Topic of the Year: The Impact of Climate Change on Communities
The Center for Public Integrity – “One Disaster Away”
NPR and The University of Maryland Howard Center for Investigative Journalism – “Heat and Health in American Cities”
The Boston Globe – “At the Edge of a Warming World”

Visual Journalism
The Associated Press – “Photography portfolio for Rodrigo Abd”
The Washington Post – “2019 Portfolio: Jahi Chikwendiu – From My Own Backyard”
The Texas (Austin) Tribune – “Under the Dome”

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