2011 Winners of the National Awards for Education Reporting

A series of stories looking at how education in the United States profits from Chinese students won EWA’s top prize for education reporting.

Bloomberg News won the Fred M. Hechinger Grand Prize for Distinguished Education Reporting for the second year in a row for “Lost in Translation,” a series of stories that looked at the predatory recruiting fees Chinese students pay to attend satellite college campuses; the exorbitant tuition rates private boarding schools charge Chinese students; and the effect that Chinese students paying full tuition has on Asian American students’ opportunities to attend selective colleges in the United States.

Daniel Golden and Oliver Staley wrote the 10 stories in the series. Golden was a part of the Bloomberg team that won the 2011 grand prize for “Education Inc.,” a hard-nosed investigative examination of for-profit higher education.

“This series does an excellent job of uncovering a large issue of great national interest that had been flying under the radar,” wrote one of the judges. “Great breadth of coverage and excellent personal stories come together in top-notch storytelling and public service journalism.”

EWA announced the winners of the Fred M. Hechinger Grand Prize for Distinguished Education Reporting at its annual conference in Philadelphia on May 19. The award includes a cash prize of $1,500. The grand prize winner is selected out of the 18 first-prize winners.

The other winners of the 2011 National Awards for Education Reporting were also recognized at the annual conference.

EWA – the only professional organization for members of the news media who specialize in education – each year recognizes excellence on the education beat across multiple media through its National Awards for Education Reporting. In print, radio, television and online, the work of EWA award-winners reaches millions, furthering the association’s mission of increasing the quantity and quality of education coverage across the nation.

For this year’s contest, our panel of judges has selected 61 winning entries from a total of 340 submissions. The winner of the Fred M. Hechinger Grand Prize for Distinguished Education Reporting will be selected from among the first-place award recipients and will be announced at EWA’s 65th National Seminar in May.

“Recognizing the contest winners will be a highlight of our upcoming conference, which is shaping up to be our most timely and energizing yet,” said Caroline Hendrie, EWA’s executive director.    

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. 

This year’s panel of distinguished judges were: Abby Brownback, The Gazette; Doug Cumming, Washington & Lee University; Wayne Dawkins, Hampton University; Duchesne Drew, Star Tribune; Steven Drummond, National Public Radio; Elliott Francis, WAMU 88.5; Sarahmaria Gomez, TU Multimedia and Medill School of Journalism,  Northwestern University; Steve Henderson, Detroit Free Press; Christy DeBoe Hicks, The Century Foundation; Maureen McCarthy, Star Tribune; Carrie Porter, AOL’s Patch; Tracey Wong Briggs, Graduate Management Admission Council; and Mary Jane Smetanka, Star Tribune.


A. Single-Day News Coverage or Feature:

First Prize – Fawn Johnson, National Journal, Report Card

Second Prize – Albert Samaha, Riverfront Times, Intentional Grounding


Dave Breitenstein, The News-Press, Edison Admits Course Swaps

Special Citation – Dana Goldstein, The American Prospect, The Test Generation          

B. Beat Reporting:

First Prize – Goldie Blumenstyk, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Business of Higher Education

Second Prize – Rebecca Harris, Catalyst Chicago, Early Childhood Beat Reporting


Dave Breitenstein, The News-Press, Education Beat Reporting


Kay Luna, Steven Martens and Rashah McChesney, Quad-City Times, Education in the Quad-Cities

Special Citation – Colleen Gillard, Lucy Hood, Patti Hartigan, Laura Pappano, Brigid Schulte, David McKay Wilson, Harvard Education Letter, Harvard Education Letter’s Education Coverage

C. Series:

First Prize – Craig DeVrieze and Kay Luna, Quad-City Times, Hidden Homeless

Second Prize – Dave SaltmanHarvard Education Letter, Tech Talk       

Special Citation – Rena Havner Philips, Press-Register, Alabama’s Immigration Law


Charis Anderson, The Standard-Times, Building Better Schools

D. Investigative Reporting:

First Prize – Cathey O’Donnell and Gary Stern, The Journal News, Too Big to Fix

Second Prize – Nina Shapiro, Seattle Weekly, Deaf Jam

Special Citation – Mc Nelly Torres, Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, School of Hard Financial Knocks

E. Opinion:

First Prize – James Warren,Chicago News Cooperative, James Warren Columns

Second Prize – Colleen Gillard, Harvard Education Letter, Good Teachers (the Movie You Won’t See)

Special Citation – Stephen Lemons, Phoenix New Times, White Lies


Caryl Rivers, Boston University, and Rosalind Barnett, Brandeis University,Opinion Columns



A. Single-Day News Coverage or Feature:

First Prize – Gendy Alimurung, LA Weekly, Bad Lunch

Second Prize – Linda Wertheimer, The Boston Globe Magazine, Test of Faith

Special Citation – Liz Bowie, The Baltimore Sun, Slow Turnaround


Erin Richards, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Finland


Lillian Mongeau, The Dallas Morning News, Bringing Lessons to Life

B. Beat Reporting:

First Prize – John Hechinger, Bloomberg News, Charter Schools, Broken Promises

Second Prize – Daniel de Vise, The Washington Post, The College Beat 2011

Special Citation – Sarah Garland, Sarah Butrymowicz, Jon Marcus, Jill Barshay, The Hechinger Report, Hechinger Report Beat Reporting

C. Series:

First Prize – Daniel Golden and Oliver Staley, Bloomberg News, Lost in Translation 

Second Prize – Todd Lighty, Stacy St. Clair, Jodi S. Cohen and Ryan Haggerty, Chicago Tribune, Campus Sexual Assaults

Special Citation –Stephanie Ebbert, Jenna Russell, James Vaznis, Akilah Johnson, Meghan E. Irons, Patricia Wen, Andrew Ryan, Maria Sacchetti and the Globe’s video and graphics staff, The Boston Globe, Getting In

D. Investigative Reporting:

First Prize – Marisol Bello, Jack Gillum, Greg Toppo, and Jodi Upton (Primary Reporters), Linda Mathews (Project Editor), USA Today; additional reporting by Dennis Cauchon, USA Today; Denise Amos, The Cincinnati Enquirer; Chastity Pratt Dawsey, Peggy Walsh-Sarnecki and Kristi Tanner-White, Detroit Free Press; Anne Ryman, The Arizona Republic, Nancy Mitchell, Ed News Colorado; and Jennifer Oldham and April Dembosky, The Hechinger Report, Testing the System

Second Prize – Heather Vogell and Alan Judd, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Public Schools Cheating Scandal

Special Citation –Michael Finnegan and Gale Holland, Los Angeles Times, Billions to Spend

E. Opinion:

First Prize – William McKenzie, The Dallas Morning News, Education Reform

Second Prize – Monica Yant Kinney,Philadelphia Inquirer, Monica Yant Kinney’s Opinion

Special Citation – Paul Owens, Orlando Sentinel, Student Debt


Sharon Broussard, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland Schools



A. Short-Form Coverage:

First Prize – Jim Bell, Don Nash, Dee Dee Thomas and Antoinette Machiaverna, NBC News/TODAY, Inside the College Admissions Process

Second Prize – Jim Bell, Don Nash, Debbie Kosofsky, Jennifer Long and Amy Robach, NBC News/TODAY, Judge Jimmie Edwards

Special Citation – Dan Carsen, Southern Education Desk at WBHM, Police Pepper-Spraying Students on Campus

B. Beat Reporting:

First Prize – Phyllis Fletcher, Jim Gates and Guy Nelson, KUOW Public Radio, KUOW’s Phyllis Fletcher Reports

Second Prize – Maura Walz, Georgia Public Broadcasting, Maura Walz on Georgia schools

Special Citation – John Merrow, John Tulenko, Cat McGrath and David Wald, PBS NewsHour/Learning Matters, 2010-2011 Learning Matters Compilation

C. Feature, News Feature, or Issue Package:

First Prize – Emily Hanford, Catherine Winter and Stephen Smith, American Public Media, Don’t Lecture Me

Second Prize – Dan Carsen, Southern Education Desk at WBHM, Poor Neighborhoods, Polluted Schools               


Bob Holtzman, Nicole Noren, Tim Hays, Dwayne Bray, Douglas Colby, Marc Lustig and Vince Doria, ESPN, ESPN Outside the Lines, “Burt Grossman”

Special Citation – Ana Tintocalis and Tyche Hendricks, KQED Public Media, How School Budgets Passed From Local to State Control and Untangling the Web of California School Funding

D. Series:

First Prize – Kavitha Cardoza, Ginger Moored and Rebecca Blatt, WAMU Public Radio, The Heavy Burden of Childhood Obesity 

Second Prize – Jim Bell, Don Nash, Natalie Morales ,Curtis Vogel, Marc Victor and Audrey Kolina, NBC News/TODAY, Class of 2020      

Special Citation – Noreen O’Donnell, Jackson Loo and Devon Puglia, The Daily, New Orleans’ New Start

E. Investigative Reporting:  

First Prize – Rob Schmitz and Amy Scott, Marketplace, The Chinese Student Syndrome        

Second Prize – Sarah Gonzalez and John O’Connor, StateImpact Florida (in collaboration with The Miami Herald), No Choice: Florida Charter Schools Failing to Serve Students with Disabilities      



A. Journalism blogging:       

First Prize – John O’Connor and Sarah Gonzalez, StateImpact Florida (a project of NPR, WUSF Public Media, WJCT Public Broadcasting and WLRN Public Media), StateImpact Florida Blog Coverage

Second Prize – Elizabeth Green, Philissa Cramer, Geoffrey Decker, Rachel Cromidas, Jessica Campbell, Sarah Darville, Anna Phillips, Maura Walz, Chris Arp, GothamSchools, GothamSchools

Special Citation – Benjamin Herold, Dale Mezzacappa, Paul Socolar and Chris Satullo (of WHYY/Newsworks), Philadelphia Public School Notebook, Cheating coverage

B. Community blogging:

First Prize – Dana Chivvis, Christopher Tine, Soraya Gage and Colleen Nowers, NBC News / Education Nation / NBC Learn, Education Nation’s The Learning Curve Blog

Second Prize Mary Churchill and Meg Palladino, Inside Higher Ed, University of Venus

Special Citation – Jessica Stahl, Voice of America, The Student Union



First Prize – Sarah Karp, Catalyst Chicago, The Right Move?

Second Prize – Ben Wildavsky, Foreign Policy, Think Again: Education    

Special Citation – Jack Stripling, Andrea Fuller and Josh Keller, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Executive Compensation: What Private College Presidents Make