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Scripps Howard Foundation honors best journalism of 2016

Posted at 5:42 AM, Apr 12, 2017

The Scripps Howard Foundation is set to honor some of the nation’s best journalism for the 2016 year.

The Scripps Howard Foundation will honor all award winners beginning at 7 p.m. Eastern on April 12 at The Aronoff Center for the Arts in Cincinnati, Ohio. The event will be livestreamed at for those who cannot attend.

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“Recognizing the best journalism in the country is a fundamental mission of Scripps Howard Foundation,” said Liz Carter, president and CEO of the foundation. “We, along with the judges, were impressed with the quality of journalism in submissions from the smallest of hometown newspapers to newer digital media brands to the traditional powerhouses whose investigations extend to global audiences. We commend the work these journalists did in 2016 and the impact their words, videos and interactive elements will continue to have across our communities. They embody our motto of giving light and changing lives.”

The Scripps Howard Foundation is the philanthropic arm of The E.W. Scripps Company, which owns this website. Here is a look at all of the 2016 winners. 

2016 Scripps Howard Award Winners:

Investigative Reporting, Ursula and Gilbert Farfel Prize — $20,000
Winner: “Doctors & Sex Abuse” — Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Judge’s comment: “The Atlanta Journal-Constitution did a great job of old-fashioned, shoe leather reporting combined with superb data reporting,” said Mark Tomasik, a retired editor for Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers. 

Topic of the Year (2016 Presidential Election) — $10,000
Winner: Alec MacGillis — “The Breakdown,” ProPublica
Judge’s comment: “This series of stories very much over the course of a year and the course of time told the story and kept its finger on the pulse of what was happening in real time,” said Wesley Lowery, a national reporter for the Washington Post.

Public Service Reporting, Roy W. Howard Award — $10,000
Winner: “Special Education Denied” — Houston Chronicle
Judge’s comment: “I think this piece allowed us to understand the impact on an entire state and to allow the people in that state to realize the impact,” said Brad Hamm, the dean of the Northwestern Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications.

Photojournalism — $10,000
Winner: Daniel Berehulak — The New York Times
Judge’s comment: “He brought us five very strong and powerful stories and brought us into the lives of people who we don’t have access to very often,” said Carolyn Cole, photographer for the Los Angeles Times.

Opinion, Walker Stone Award — $10,000
Winner: Stephen Henderson — Detroit Free Press
Judge’s comment: “His opinion writing had an intimacy to it that impressed the judges very much because he was able to with a certain clarity and grace, talk about the big issues of government policy along with smaller issues such as the fate of his family home in a way that showed the connections that kind of bind us to all these issues," said Maura Casey, founder of CaseyInk, LLC.

Environmental Reporting, Edward J. Meeman Award — $10,000
Winner: Rob Davis — “Toxic Armories” The Oregonian/OregonLive
Judge’s comment: "The amount of work that went into this is astonishing and just the reporting and the writing was done with such clarity, and it was so compelling, it stood out as really the clear winner,” author David Barron said.

Business/Economics Reporting, William Brewster Styles Award — $10,000
Winner: “The Panama Papers” — The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, McClatchy and the Miami Herald
Judge’s comment: “They really exposed the shadowy underworld of money laundering and tax evasion in a way we’ve never seen before, so it was really great work,” said Julia Wallace, Frank Russell Chair at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.

Breaking News — $10,000
Winner: “Oakland’s Ghost Ship Fire” — East Bay Times – $10,000
Judge’s comment: “What really stood out to us was incredibly good writing, particularly on the bookends — in the first day print story and in the final wrapup print story — very careful, good colorful writing that got a lot of information in,” said Jerry Ceppos, Dean of the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University.

Community Journalism — $10,000
Winner: Gregory Pratt — “Lincoln-Way Investigation” Daily Southtown
Judge’s comment: “They won based on some really well done reporting around a particular school district that had really overspent, had lack of oversight and really was running amok,” said Jeff Brogan, general manager at Cincinnati-based WCPO.

Distinguished Service to First Amendment, Edward Willis Scripps Award — $10,000
Winner: Eric Eyre — “Painkiller Profiteers” Charleston Gazette-Mail (West Virginia)
Judge’s comment: “It had done an incredible job of taking a look at why its state has the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the nation,” said Mary Kay Blake, retired from the Newseum as senior vice president.

Human Interest Storytelling, Ernie Pyle Award — $10,000
Winner: Lane DeGregory — Tampa Bay Times
Judge’s comment: “Lane DeGregory of the Tampa Bay Times is a remarkable storyteller. She writes gripping heart-wrenching stories with amazing, insight, warmth and skill. Her extensive reporting draws readers in with touching details that bring complex characters to life and build compelling stories that you just can’t stop reading,” said Julie Agnone, Ohio University visiting professor

Digital Innovation — $10,000
Winner: “Machine Bias” — ProPublica
Judge’s comment: “ProPublica with a variety of techniques including using PhDs to do the computer science reverse-engineered algorithms and was able to go behind the curtain and see how they work. This plus a lot of crowdsourcing and other kinds of reporting resulted in a variety of revelations and some really highly informational stories also and some tools,” said Eric Newton, innovative chief at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

Radio In-Depth Coverage, Jack R. Howard — $10,000
Winner: “Flint Water Crisis” — Michigan Radio
Judge’s comment: “They did a fantastic, far-reaching, truly dogged exploration of the Flint water crisis, the people who caused it to happen, the people who did nothing really to ameliorate the problem and the people who suffered from this incredible instance of governmental neglect,” said Chris Bannon, chief content officer at Midroll Media.

TV/Cable In-Depth National, International Coverage, Jack R. Howard Award — $10,000
Winner: “ISIS Fighters” — Fusion, Vytenis Didziulis, Catalina Gómez Ángel, Mikhail Galustov and Keith Summa
Judge’s comment: “It was extraordinary, not just because of its bravery, but because it actually taught us something that we did not know. There’s a piece of you watching this story that has to ask, ‘Do I feel strongly enough to do what they’ve done?’” said Al Tompkins, Poynter Institute’s senior faculty for broadcasting and online.

TV/Cable In-Depth Local Coverage, Jack R. Howard Award — $10,000
Winner: “Medical Waste” — WVUE-TV New Orleans, Lee Zurik, Jon Turnipseed, Tom Wright and Greg Phillips
Judge’s comment: “Here’s a story about the high price of pharmaceuticals, which is a national story, and it turns out it didn’t take Congress to solve this. All it took was a company and an industry to do the right thing that they should have done all along and it also was a case where the consumers just had no idea what was going on. They needed someone to fight for them,” Al Tompkins, Poynter Institute’s senior faculty for broadcasting and online.