We are very pleased to announce that StateImpact Florida is now the official winner of the Gannett Foundation Award for Innovative Investigative Journalism in the small newsroom category. The award went to both WUSF and WLRN-Miami Herald News Public Radio for “No Choice: Florida Charter Schools Failing to Serve Students with Disabilities.”
Becky Lettenberger / NPR StateImpact
The series has all of the hallmarks of a great StateImpact story:
- It illustrated the effect of state policy on people’s lives–in this case, some of the most underserved and underrepresented in our communities: children with disabilities. John O’Connor and Sarah Gonzalez‘s multi-platform story brought the people they met into their audience’s lives and made the issues they face real and immediate.
- It was data- and document-driven. The team gathered and analyzed data from 14 school districts representing more than three-quarters of Florida’s total charter school enrollment in order to identify trends and oversights.
- It used the unique strengths of multiple platforms intelligently, keeping stats and figures online, in easy-to-access formats and putting some of the best, most human and interesting components in the broadcast piece.
- It was an example of the type of watchdog, public service journalism that we strive to produce every day. It questioned the efficacy of popular state policies and investigated whether scarce public resources were being wisely used.
- It was a successful, network-building collaboration—in this case, with the Miami Herald, one of the country’s most widely-circulated and well-respected newspapers.
In the Spotlight: Collaboration Increases Reach
We have high hopes for StateImpact Florida's new partnership with the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. Their work has already been featured in outlets across the state.
This week’s top story is part of a hard-hitting series on the country’s largest online education company and was born of a new collaboration between StateImpact Florida and the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit, digital bilingual investigative outlet. We’re excited about the work the two teams have already done together and potential the collaboration holds for future endeavors.
FCIR reporter Trevor Aaronson says that the collaboration is part of a growing shift away from a purely competitive to a more collaborative media environment–one that is happening on both the national and the local stage. Larger outlets like ProPublica and NPR have made the shift visible. But the trend is just as salient among smaller, local start-ups like StateImpact and FCIR, which are nimble enough to delve into tips or breaking news with an investigative eye, thereby expanding the breadth and reach of both organizations’ work.
“Between John and me and Scott Finn, we’re able to get the story on WUSF in Tampa, WLRN in Miami and nearly every major newspaper in the state,” he said. “Five years ago that was inconceivable.”
StateImpact Florida’s John O’Connor elaborates:
John O'Connor/ StateImpact Florida
The partnership has two goals: We help bring education expertise to Trevor’s investigative work; and we can get FCIR/StateImpact Florida stories on air across the state in addition to getting stories published by the Miami Herald, the Associated Press, the Lakeland Ledger and the Ocala Star-Banner.
One of the lessons is the value of two small, agile and independent partners. We’ve found newspapers have some institutional inertia against working with us on other stories. They like to have control over the reporting and editing of the story.
Day Two featured deeper dives into ethics questions, investigative, multimedia and data journalism. It was again chronicled well by our StateImpact reporters and staff.
Scott Finn / WUSF
John and Sarah at work last summer.
Congrats to John O’Connor and Sarah Gonzalez, winners in the Education Writers Association National Reporting Contest. The team placed first in the journalism blogging category, and second in broadcast investigative reporting for their piece, “No Choice: Florida Charter Schools Failing to Serve Students with Disabilities.”
This is a huge honor and I know it’s only the start of all the awards your reporting efforts will rack up in the coming months and years. From EWA:
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.
Congrats to John and Sarah and their editors Dan and Scott. We’re so happy for y’all! Well deserved honors.