Winners of 2018 Scripps Howard Awards announced, honoring the best in journalism
Comprehensive multiplatform reporting and collaboration with news outlets are trends among winners of the 2018 Scripps Howard Awards. Their work embodies the meaning of journalism that brings important truths to light, holds the powerful accountable and changes our world.
The Scripps Howard Foundation has announced winners of its 66th awards in 15 categories, honoring the best in American journalism from the past year. The Foundation will present more than $170,000 in prize money to the winning organizations and journalists at its annual awards show on April 18 in Cincinnati. The event will be streamed live on YouTube and Facebook, and rebroadcast April 21 on Newsy. The awards show also will air on Scripps stations throughout the summer.
"The level of newsroom collaboration we've seen across the 2018 entries is remarkable," said Liz Carter, president and CEO of the Scripps Howard Foundation. "The work submitted this year is a true testament to the power and necessity of journalism as witness to the most important events shaping our world, and we applaud all of the Scripps Howard Awards entrants for their enormous dedication to this work."
"The E.W. Scripps Company congratulates the journalists and news organizations honored as this year's best of the best," added Adam Symson, Scripps president and CEO. "The Scripps Howard Awards winners serve as another example of the critical role the free press plays as a check on our democracy."
Among the 2018 Scripps Howard Award winners:
Breaking News: South Florida Sun Sentinel (Deerfield Beach) for "Parkland: A Breaking News Story that Demanded a Long-Term Commitment" – Coverage of the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.
Judges' comments: "Breaking news coverage is not often an area where demonstrable impact can be shown, but the Sun Sentinel's dogged real-time pursuit of every angle of the breaking story and underlying contributors to this tragedy has had a lasting impact on Parkland, on journalism and on the national conversation about guns in America."
Business/Financial Reporting: International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, NBC News Investigative Unit, The Associated Press and more than 50 media partners for "Implant Files" – An investigation into the medical devices and implants industry and its related injuries and deaths.
Judges' comments: "Excellently planned, researched, documented, reported and written with key findings highlighted throughout. The compelling personal stories of patients give life to the numbers."
Community Journalism: Knoxville (Tennessee) News Sentinel for "The Devastation of TVA's Coal Ash Spill" – Coverage of the workers who were sickened cleaning up the country's worst coal ash spill.
Judges' comments: "Reporter Jamie Satterfield delivers excellent watchdog work that truly holds the powerful accountable. Her investigation is deeply reported and swarms all the important angles. The series of stories were well sourced and contained videos with on-the-record accounts that hit viewers between the eyes. Satterfield's extraordinary efforts result in change-inducing and life-saving journalism."
Distinguished Service to the First Amendment: The Dallas Morning News for "Pain and Profit" – An investigation into the failures in Texas' privatized Medicaid system.
Judges' comments: "The impact of the investigation is impressive. Sick people are getting the services they are entitled to; the state has spent $7 million on 100 new regulators; the legislature is considering a package of bills expected to lead to a crackdown on companies that deny medically needed services ... none of this could have been accomplished without the use of public records requests and resourceful use of duplicate records held by other states when their requests were denied."
Opinion: Jeffery Gerritt, editor of the Palestine (Texas) Herald-Press, for "What Are They Hiding?" – Commentary that questioned two issues affecting the Palestine community: an athletic commission's treatment of a football player and the state of Texas' rush to execute condemned prisoners.
Judges' comments: "In their clarity and detail, the editorials would be worthy of the best efforts of the largest metro newspapers in America. The fact that they were all published by a small Texas paper with less than a 10,000 circulation is an example of journalism that speaks truth to power when doing so could invite truly unpleasant consequences."
"Scripps Howard is one of the top two journalism awards in the country," Herald-Press publisher Jake Mienk said. "This is another indication our paper can compare with some of the nation's best.
"I'm very proud of Jeff and his achievements. His love for journalism shows in his work and throughout our products."
Donna Barrett, chief executive officer of CNHI, LLC, the parent company of the Herald-Press, called the award "an incredible and well-deserved honor."
Gerritt was named editor of the Herald-Press in 2017, after spending 17 years at the Detroit Free Press as a reporter, editorial writer and columnist. He was also the deputy editor of The Blade in Toledo for four years, and worked as a reporter for USA Today.
"I'm honored, surprised and humbled," Gerritt said. "These editorials and columns were not part of a big special project. They were just punchy, daily editorials that, somehow, managed to hold their own against some extremely impressive work. I was very fortunate."
Unlike some journalism contests, Scripps Howard is not subscription-based: The smallest newspapers and media outlets in the United States compete against the biggest, including the New York Times, which won for Human Interest writing.
"Some of these editorials were controversial, especially in a small town," Gerritt said. "I give (Herald-Press Publisher) Jake (Mienk) a lot of credit for standing behind them and leading us to excellence.
"Grinding out a newspaper – digital or print – is always a team effort. This reflects the hard work and high standards of our entire newsroom, including City Editor PennyLynn Webb, reporters William Patrick and Michael Maresh, Sports Editor Eric Vicarro, page designer and reporter Lisa Tang, and graphic artist Mary Jones."
Journalism Education Awards
The Scripps Howard Foundation, in partnership with the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, also announced the winners of its two journalism education awards:
Teacher of the Year
Jinx Broussard – Manship School of Mass Communication, Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge)
Administrator of the Year
Dean Diane McFarlin – College of Journalism and Communications, University of Florida (Gainesville)