The Kansas City Star won two Scripps Howard Awards on Tuesday, for the series “Why so secret, Kansas?” and for a collection of columns by Melinda Henneberger.
The Star, The Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle each won twice in the Scripps Howard Foundation’s 65th annual awards. The foundation will honor the winning organizations and journalists April 19 in Cincinnati.
The Star won for Distinguished Service to the First Amendment – the Edward Willis Scripps Award for “Why So Secret, Kansas?” a November series that showed pervasive secrecy at all levels of government in Kansas.
“We’re deeply honored to be recognized by Scripps Howard for First Amendment journalism. We are here as a watchdog for the community and open government, and I’m proud to say we did our job,” said Mike Fannin, editor/vice president of The Star. “This only happened because a group of reporters and editors agreed on a vision, dug relentlessly for months, refused to be deterred and fearlessly reported what they found.”
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The judges said: “The extraordinary series fought censorship, combatted government secrecy and instilled in the public a new appreciation for their First Amendment rights. The series prompted swift and extensive changes through the state and serves as a model for news organizations in other states.”
Henneberger won the Walker Stone Award for opinion writing with “a portfolio of work that is a revealing look at the people and political issues driving conversations in the heartland.”
Added the judges: “Great columnists write so well that they transport readers to a different time and place, allowing readers to observe what the writer is seeing. … Good reporting and eloquence made Henneberger the clear winner in a competitive field.”
Henneberger came to The Star in January 2017.
“Melinda has made an immediate impact in Kansas City with thoughtful, well-reported columns that give voice to viewpoints that too often have been overlooked,” said Colleen McCain Nelson, The Star’s vice president/editorial page editor. “She helps put issues in context for our readers and brings both everyday folks and elected officials to life in her commentary. It’s a great time to be part of The Star’s editorial board, and Melinda has been a standout member of our team. “
Awards were presented in 15 categories. All of the winners are under consideration for the Impact Award, the Scripps Howard competition’s highest honor. The winner will be announced during the awards show on April 19.
“The power of journalism is evident in the impact that these winning entries have had on their communities and society as a whole,” Liz Carter, president and CEO of the Scripps Howard Foundation, said Tuesday.
Here is the complete list of winners:
Breaking News: San Francisco Chronicle for “Wine Country Fires” – Coverage of the worst wildfire disaster in state history in October 2017.
Broadcast, Local Coverage – Jack R. Howard Award: Brendan Keefe of WXIA 11Alive Atlanta for “The Drug Whisperer” – An investigation into the ordeal of innocent people wrongly arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana.
Broadcast, National, International Coverage – Jack R. Howard Award:Debora Patta, Sarah Carter and Meshack Dube of CBS News for “Ambush in Niger” – Coverage of the deaths of four U.S. soldiers in the west African country.
Business/Financial Reporting – William Brewster Styles Award:Brian Grow, John Shiffman and the Reuters team for “The Body Trade” – An investigation into commerce of human remains.
Community Journalism – in partnership with Google News Lab: Bristol Herald Courier for “Addicted at Birth” – An extensive look at how the opioid crisis has impacted babies.
Environmental Reporting – Edward J. Meeman Award: Kale Williams of The Oregonian/OregonLive for “The Loneliest Polar Bear” – A view of the real life of Nora the polar bear, an internet sensation.
Distinguished Service to the First Amendment – Edward Willis Scripps Award: The Kansas City Star for “Why So Secret, Kansas?”
Human Interest Storytelling – Ernie Pyle Award: John Woodrow-Cox of The Washington Post for “Children and Gun Violence” – An examination of how deadly gunfire impacts young people.
Innovation: Arizona Republic with the USA Today Network for “The Wall” – A collaborative project that helped people understand the potential impact of a controversial public policy proposal.
Investigative Reporting – Ursula and Gilbert Farfel Prize: The New York Times for “Harassed” – The catalyst for an ongoing reckoning about sexual harassment and abuse, secret settlements and lack of accountability.
Multimedia Journalism: The Washington Post for “Sin Luz: Life Without Power” – An immersive project that takes viewers into the daily struggles of Puerto Ricans following two powerful hurricanes.
Opinion – Walker Stone Award: Melinda Henneberger for The Kansas City Star.
Radio/Podcast – Jack R. Howard Award:Laura Heaton and Michael May of NPR for “The Congo We Listen To,” an episode of “Rough Translation” – The podcast episode that revisited a shocking story of human suffering and found discrepancies in the original account.
Topic of the Year – Divided America: Elle Reeve, Tracy Jarrett, Josh Davis and Joe LoCascio of VICE News for “Charlottesville: Race & Terror” – Coverage of how ideological differences exploded into a deadly day of violence.
Visual Journalism:Leah Millis of San Francisco Chronicle – The visual documenting of some of the year’s most complex issues and events, from raising transgender children, to political protests, to deportations to the jailing of children in the foster care system.