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NCDJ Opens 2017 Schneider Award Disability Reporting Contest

May 23, 2017

The National Center on Disability and Journalism is accepting entries for the nation’s only journalism contest devoted exclusively to disability coverage.

The NCDJ at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication has opened the annual Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability, which recognizes coverage of disability issues and people with disabilities.

Prizes include a $5,000 award for the first-place winner, who also is invited to deliver a public lecture at the Cronkite School. The second-place and third-place winners receive $1,500 and $500, respectively.

The contest is open for print, broadcast and online entries, which must be published or aired between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017. The entry deadline is July 31, 2017, at 11:59 p.m. MST. The online application and additional information are available at https://cronkite.asu.edu/katherine-schneider-journalism-award.

Past honorees have included reporters from The New York Times, ProPublica, The Center for Investigative Reporting and The Kansas City Star, among others. Entries are judged by a panel of professional journalists and disability experts.

Last year, Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter Chris Serres, along with reporter Glenn Howatt and photographer David Joles, took first place for an investigation into state-subsidized sheltered workshops in Minnesota. “A Matter of Dignity” revealed how hundreds of Minnesotans with developmental disabilities are segregated and neglected in a state system of sheltered workshops.

Second place went to WAMU 88.5, the NPR station in Washington, D.C., for “From Institution to Inclusion,” which chronicled the history of a 40-year-old class action lawsuit that closed an institution where people with intellectual and developmental disabilities were sent to live. David Epstein of ProPublica was awarded third place in 2016 for “The DIY Scientist, the Olympian, and the Mutated Gene,” a story of do-it-yourself genetics that helped a 39-year-old Iowa mother solve her mysterious degenerative muscle disorder.

“For the past five years, the Schneider Award has singled out powerful investigations and wonderfully told stories about people with disabilities and disability issues,” said NCDJ Executive Director Kristin Gilger, who also serves as senior associate dean of the Cronkite School. “Their work sets a standard for work in this important area.”

The awards contest 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. Schneider, who has been blind since birth, said she established the awards program to call attention to and encourage journalism that goes well beyond “inspirational” stories about people with disabilities.

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.