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NCDJ Opens 2016 Schneider Award Disability Reporting Contest

May 4, 2016

Journalists who have reported on the disability community in the past year are encouraged to submit entries to a national journalism contest that recognizes the best coverage of disability issues and people with disabilities each year.

The National Center on Disability and Journalism at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is now accepting entries for the 2016 Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability, the only journalism contest devoted exclusively to disability coverage.

Prizes include a $5,000 award for the first-place winner, who also is invited to speak at the Cronkite School. The second-place winner receives a $1,500 award, and additional honorable mention awards of $500 may be given at the judges’ discretion.

The contest is open to print, broadcast and online entries, which must be published or aired between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016. The entry deadline is July 31, 2016, at 11:59 p.m. MST. The online application and additional information are available at http://ncdj.org/contest/.

“Advancing the conversation about disabilities and shedding light on important issues is something we are proud to recognize and encourage with this award,” said NCDJ Executive Director Kristin Gilger, who also serves as associate dean of the Cronkite School. “With roughly one in five people in the U.S. experiencing a disability, these stories potentially impact everyone in some way.”

The disability reporting contest, now in its fourth year, is made possible by a grant from Katherine Schneider, a retired clinical psychologist who also supports the Schneider Family Book Awards administered by the American Library Association.

Heather Vogell of ProPublica took first place in the 2014-2015 contest for her reporting on dangerous and invasive restraint practices used on children in schools. Her winning story, “Violent and Legal: The Shocking Ways School Kids are Being Pinned Down, Isolated Against Their Will,” profiled a young boy with autism who sustained broken bones after educators grabbed him and tried to force him into a “scream room.” Her in-depth data analysis uncovered that children across the country faced similar harm at least 267,000 times in 2012.

Second place last year went to Josh Kovner, a reporter at the Hartford Courant in Connecticut, for “Saving Evan: A Mother and Son Navigate the Challenges of Treating Autism.” Radio producer Eric Mennel received an honorable mention for a North Carolina Public Radio story, “Why Some NC Sterilization Victims Won't Get Share of $10 Million Fund.”

Previous first place winners include Dan Barry of The New York Times, who won the Schneider Award in 2014 along with colleagues Kassie Bracken and Nicole Bengiveno for “The ‘Boys’ in the Bunkhouse,” an in-depth examination of the lives of disabled men who worked in vile conditions for decades in an Iowa turkey plant.

In 2013, California Watch, part of The Center for Investigative Reporting, took first place for “Broken Shield,” a package of stories written and reported by Ryan Gabrielson about how California police failed to investigate abuse of developmentally disabled patients in their charge.

Entries are judged by a panel of professional journalists and disability experts.

The NCDJ has been part of the Cronkite School since 2009. The organization provides support and guidance for journalists as they cover people with disabilities, including a popular style guide that offers advice on the use of disability-related words and terms.