Judges: The Reports of the Death of Journalism are Greatly Exaggerated
Anyone who reads the works of the winners of the Freedom awards for 2015 would see the state of reporting is not sad, but amazing. At a ceremony held December 7, 2016, reporter Terrence McCoy was awarded a plaque and a $5,000 check for winning the Heywood Broun award for a Washington Post series, “Freddy Gray’s Life a Study on the Effect of Lead Paint on Poor Blacks.”
The prestigious award began in 1941 and is named for Broun, a crusading columnist who fought for the underdog, exposed injustices and righted wrongs.
Four Associated Press reporters — Esther Htusan, Margie Mason, Robin McDowell, and Martha Mendoza — won the Award of Distinction for a print publication and CNN Senior Writers Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken were the recipients of the Award of Distinction in the broadcast category.
[See the Fall 2016 issue of the Guild Reporter for details on the winning Broun entries.]
Beginning in 1999, The NewsGuild-CWA established scholarships for high school and college students named after the Guild’s longtime general counsel, David S. Barr, to recognize young journalists who focus on issues of social justice.
Nathalie Gabriela Mairena received the $1,000 prize for a high school student for her piece for Miami Montage, “Sort of a mess.” Her investigation exposed how workers at waste management facilities are at risk of injury when the rules of recycling are ignored by those in charge.
For her three-part report, “Still wondering why shots were fired,” which appeared in the Sanger Herald, Jeanine Michelle Fiser was awarded the college prize of $1,500. Fiser reported on the shooting death of an ex-Marine who was unarmed, an alcoholic, mentally ill, and suffering from PTSD. Her investigation revealed confusion, unprofessional behavior and faulty leadership among the officers involved. The judges noted the work “reveals a passion for justice and fairness on the part of the author.”
At the ceremony, TNG-CWA President Bernard J. Lunzer complimented the winners and the great work put in by the judges. Lunzer noted that, collectively, all the entries “demonstrate the valuable role the media has in bringing to light injustices in the world.”