Fred M. Hechinger Grand Prize
(May 10, 2013 ) PALO ALTO, Calif. A project that took 10 years of persistence to document disturbing patterns of absenteeism in Chicago Public Schools won EWA’s Fred M. Hechinger Grand Prize for Distinguished Education Reporting. The Chicago Tribune received the award for “An Empty-Desk Epidemic,” which demonstrated how students racked up missed days of school even as early as kindergarten. School officials ignored the problem.
David Jackson, Gary Marx, Alex Richards and Scott Strazzante shared the prestigious award, which is given to the best overall entry in the National Awards for Education Reporting.
Jackson and Marx accepted the award on Saturday, May 4, at EWA’s 66th National Seminar at Stanford University.
"I could not put down these stories once I started reading them. Outstanding watchdog journalism at its best. This series exposed a serious problem in Chicago Public Schools using ingenuity and old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting,” wrote one judge. “David Jackson and Gary Marx use both cutting-edge multimedia and fantastic traditional storytelling to tell this often horrifying story of thousands of Chicago children slipping through the cracks."
The other winners of the 2012 National Awards for Education Reporting were also recognized at the annual conference, which drew 327 participants. A total of 411 entries were judged in this year’s contest, and 62 entries were recognized by the judges. All first-prize winners are eligible for the grand prize and the Chicago Tribune series was selected out of 15 finalists.
Contest judging was conducted independently, under the direction of Chief Judge Tamara M. Cooke Henry, Ph.D., of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland.
The judges are: Nanette Asimov, San Francisco Chronicle; James Bettinger, Stanford University; Daarel Burnette II, The Atlanta Journal Constitution; Michael Alison Chandler, The Washington Post; Martha Dalton, WABE News; Eric Eyre, The Charleston Gazette; Carole Feldman, The Associated Press; Bill Graves, The Oregonian; Richard Green, The Hartford Courant; Cathy Grimes, Daily Press; Danyell Irby, National Public Radio; Cindy Johnston, National Public Radio; Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed; Julia McEvoy, KQED; Nancy Mitchell, formerly of EdNews Colorado and now at the Colorado Department of Education; Dave Murray, MLive; Brock Read, The Chronicle of Higher Education; Monica Rhor, formerly of The Associated Press and Houston Chronicle and now a journalism instructor; Erin Richards, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Jennifer Ruark, The Chronicle of Higher Education; Scott Smallwood, The Chronicle of Higher Education; Miles Smith, WJLA; ; Michael Squires, The Arizona Republic; and Dorie Turner, formerly of the Associated Press and now at the Georgia Department of Education.
No judge reviewed an entry submitted by his or her current or recent employer.
The winning entries can be viewed at EWA’s EdMedia Commons.
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