First place: Staff, The Columbus Dispatch
About this entry: After a stint of suicides in Ohio, The Columbus Dispatch decided to take action and investigate on the often underreported issue. After nine months of examining the issue of suicide, it published its six-part “Silent Suffering” investigation. The overwhelming response to the series the newsroom received included hundreds of letters and calls of thanks from readers, attention from federal and state lawmakers who began calling for improvements of the mental health system, reports from suicide-prevention advocates about increased attendance numbers in support groups and the significant attendance at a community forum at Ohio State University further highlighting the issue.
Read online: Silent Suffering
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Wow. This project took me down a wonderful path that taught me so much about a topic that journalism traditionally runs from. I was educated, outraged and driven to wanting to take action from this impressive effort to help your community wrestle with a problem that seemed to be silently devastating so many families there. From the headline to the graphics to the stories to the panel discussions and videos. Every element was well-edited and executed. Kudos.
Second place: Staff, Rockford Register Star
About this entry:After a series of volatile public and largely unsuccessful debates over the issue of public housing, the Rockford Register Star organized a two-day forum and roundtable in an effort to discuss the issue calmly and effectively. The forum included interviews by Register Star staff of key stakeholders, who were given an opportunity to explain the facts of the issue, followed by a structured dialogue with a group of community members from all different sides of the debate.
“Our goal wasn’t to come up with solutions but simply to help people with opposite views engage in a healthy fashion.
By all accounts, the event organized by the Register Star succeeded in changing the tone of discussion in the community and created a model for future discussions of contentious issues.” — Mark Baldwin, executive editor
Read online: Residents clash with Rockford agency, Gorman on affordable-housing plan New Towne Drive, Faces of Fairgrounds: Stories of Rockford Housing Authority residents, Rockford Register Star event sparks affordable housing discussion, Rockford Register Star affordable housing roundtable addresses creating community
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Often, especially in lean times, newspapers are reluctant to forge ahead on solving community problems if it won’t result in amazing journalism. You did just the opposite. Not only did you do that, but you sought the help of others to help figure out how to dissect such a sticky issue that’s filled with economic and cultural differences.