photo of Scripps building in Cincinnati

Scripps Howard Awards honor nation’s best 2014 journalism

March 17, 2015 By Carolyn Micheli

For immediate release
Tue, March 17, 2015

CINCINNATI – The Scripps Howard Foundation is proud to announce the winners and finalists of its annual Scripps Howard Awards, honoring the best work in the news industry and journalism education for 2014.

Established in 1953, the Scripps Howard Foundation’s national journalism awards competition is open to news organizations based in the United States and recognizes outstanding print, broadcast and online journalism in 15 categories. Two additional categories honor college journalism and mass communication educators for excellence in administration and teaching.

Winners receive trophies and share $180,000 in cash prizes.

Recipients of the journalism awards will be honored in Denver on May 21. Event co-hosts are the Scripps Howard Foundation; its corporate founder, The E.W. Scripps Company; and KMGH, 7NEWS, the Scripps ABC affiliate in Denver.

Recipients of the education awards will be honored Aug. 6 in cooperation with the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) during the keynote session of its annual conference, held this year in San Francisco.

“The evolution of the news industry is abundantly clear in the entries received in this year’s competition,” said Mike Philipps, president and CEO of the Scripps Howard Foundation. “We saw more collaborations among media outlets than ever before and greater use of digital tools. Our judges were impressed with not only the high quality of journalism they saw but the courage, tenacity, enterprise and resourcefulness of the journalists who produced it.”

Entries in the journalism categories were judged by 52 industry experts, who assembled for two days at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida. Each category was assigned a separate panel of judges and their decisions are final.

Winners and finalists learned of their selection during a video announcement the public can access online at Receiving 2014 Scripps Howard Awards are the following media outlets and journalists:


The Arizona Republic receives the Ursula and Gilbert Farfel Prize for Investigative Reporting and $20,000 for “Scandal at the VA,” a series that uncovered mismanagement at the Department of Veterans Affairs and led to reforms that will improve service to ailing veterans.

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: “The Arizona Republic turned the Department of Veterans Affairs upside down with this compelling investigation that uncovered the manipulation of wait-time data taking place within the VA. Its reporting shined a spotlight for a mainstream audience on the deaths of several veterans who were waiting on appointments with VA doctors. It became a story that seemingly every media outlet – both big and small, local and global – picked up and moved forward.”

Finalists: Alex Campbell from Buzzfeed for “Battered, Bereaved and Behind Bars,” an investigation of the failure-to-protect laws that turn battered women into criminals; also C.J. Chivers of The New York Times for “Secret Casualties,” exposure of a Pentagon cover-up of abandoned chemical weapons that had injured dozens of American and Iraqi troops.

The Ursula and Gilbert Farfel Prize is co-sponsored by the Scripps Howard Foundation and the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University.

The New York Times receives the Roy W. Howard Award for Public Service Reporting and $10,000 for “Fatal Flaws,” which exposed widespread inattention to safety defects by automakers, suppliers and even regulators – and contributed to the recall of 60 million vehicles.

: “It’s easy to be swept-up in the exhaustive reporting, damning detail and expert analysis of ‘Fatal Flaws.’ But what mustn’t be overlooked is the incisive, emotional quality of every story, headline, graphic, photo and caption of this multi-part, multiplatform masterwork – emotion that effectively conveys the urgency of the subject matter: Thirteen lives lost, millions of affected consumers and an auto manufacturing Titan laid low. The New York Times reporting exposed what automakers worked for years to keep hidden from consumers – the frighteningly lax response to serious safety issues. To punctuate the public service, The New York Times gave readers a tool to sift through wave after wave of recalls and search for their own vehicles. This reporting has undoubtedly saved lives and made driving safer.”

Finalists: Judges for this category selected as finalists Robert O’Harrow, Jr., Steven Rich and Michael Sallah of The Washington Post for “Stop and Seize,” examination of a federal program that since 9/11 has enabled police nationwide to take $2.5 billion from U.S. motorists without warrants or criminal charges; also Carol D. Leonnig for another Washington Post entry, “Secret Service,” which exposed dangerous security lapses and management failures the federal agency tried to conceal.

Carol Rosenberg of The Miami Herald receives the Edward Willis Scripps Award for Distinguished Service to the First Amendment and $10,000 for overcoming gag orders and censorship the past 10-plus years to penetrate the culture of secrecy surrounding Guantanamo.

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: “The core of the First Amendment is standing up to government, whether it be federal, state or local. Imagine the courage it takes to stand up to the United States military. Carol Rosenberg’s coverage of the trials at Guantanamo was impeded at every stage by the military and yet she has persevered and continues to persevere in informing the world about what the U.S. military and federal government would like to keep secret.”

Finalists: Ziva Branstetter and Cary Aspinwall of the Tulsa World are finalists in this category for “Fatal Flaws,” reporting that combatted government secrecy surrounding Oklahoma’s execution of death row inmates by focusing on the case of Clayton Lockett. No other entry was recognized in this category this year.


David Abel of The Boston Globe receives the Ernie Pyle Award for Human Interest Storytelling and $10,000 for “The Richard Family,” a two-part narrative about overcoming physical challenges and living with grief following the Boston Marathon bombings.

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: “How does a family honor a lost son and brother? How does a family heal from the deep wounds of losing a child in a national tragedy while still healing from their own physical injuries – a lost leg, damaged eardrums, impaired vision? In showing us how the Richard family heals, how they contemplate ‘one less plate at the table’ for Thanksgiving, how they celebrate young Jane’s new prosthetic leg, David Abel helps readers heal from an American tragedy. But Abel’s powerful writing never lets the reader fall into melodrama or sentimentality. It’s truly a tale in the spirit of Ernie Pyle: everyday people facing extraordinary challenges.”

Finalists: Jessica Lipscomb of the Naples Daily News, Naples, Florida, for “Little Man and the Pursuit of Happiness,” coverage of a child’s response to a terminal cancer diagnosis; also Scott Pelley, Robert G. Anderson, Warren Lustig, Aaron Weisz and Patrick Lee of CBS News for “60 Minutes: The Shooting at Chardon High,” the story of a teacher and coach who became a reluctant hero – twice.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch receives the Scripps Howard Award for Breaking News and $10,000 for “The Shooting of Michael Brown,” 24/7 coverage as developments unfolded following the fatal shooting of an African-American teenager by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer.

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: “Soon enough, the nation would recognize Ferguson as a major story. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recognized that immediately, swarming the story from the first minute it learned of the shooting of Michael Brown and the unrest it precipitated. Using every resource at its disposal, the Post-Dispatch began reporting the story and telling it, first on social media and by morning in print. A news organization is never tested more thoroughly than when a major story breaks in its backyard. The Post-Dispatch was tested by a story that was fluid, emotional, important and not easily told with clarity and balance. It passed this test with textbook execution. Its reporters and photographers stayed on the streets, with apparent inexhaustible commitment. And its editors and layout team pulled together the results in vivid and compelling packages on day one, day two and beyond.”

Finalists: The Daily Herald from Everett, Washington, for coverage of a mudslide that crushed a rural neighborhood near Oso and killed 43 people; also CBS Evening News for “Live from Cuba,” Scott Pelley’s on-the-street reporting after the surprising announcement of re-established relations with the United States.


The Wall Street Journal receives the Scripps Howard Award for Digital Innovation and $10,000 for “Kowloon Walled City,” hours of interactive exploration of the most densely populated development in the world on the 20th anniversary of its demolition.

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: “The Wall Street Journal made use of a full range of digital tools to offer readers a unique online guided tour of what had been the Kowloon Walled City, once the world’s most densely packed urban community. The judges were struck by how multiple digital techniques were combined to provide readers with a pick-your-own-adventure journey through this crammed enclave, tucked into Hong Kong, where roughly 40,000 people lived literally on top of each other. The result was an immersive, fully interactive experience that relied on video and graphics – not text – that produced a story that was informative and emotionally engaging. A key component was a short documentary, the ‘City of Imagination,’ that became one of the most-watched videos on The Wall Street Journal Digital Network. The entire product was web-and-mobile friendly. All told, the package struck the judges as an example of the future of digital storytelling.”

Finalists: Anthony Pesce and Lily Mihalik from the Los Angeles Times for “Build Your Own California,” an interactive website that enabled users to divide the Golden State into multiple states; also Ryan Walsh, Hanna Sender, Leury Hidalgo and Suhail Ahmad from Vocativ for “A Deep Web Guide to America’s Taste in Music,” analysis of illegal download data and Twitter activity to take the musical pulse of 100 U.S. cities.

From KNTV-TV in San Jose, California, the winners of the Jack R. Howard Award for Television/Cable In-Depth Local Coverage and $10,000 are Vicky Nguyen, Kevin Nious, David Paredes, Felipe Escamilla, Jeremy Carroll, Mark Villarreal, and Julie Putnam for “Inside Sysco: Exposing North America’s Food Sheds.” Their undercover investigation of the largest food distributor in North America identified unsanitary storage units across the U.S. and Canada, which forced Sysco to change its distribution system and pay a $19.4 million penalty.

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: “This story produced national results involving the biggest food distributor in North America. District attorneys in 10 California counties opened investigations and the companies settled in an historic settlement. The TV station spent countless hours working undercover to identify a public health issue government inspectors missed. And there is no question that what the station discovered is both true and accurate.”

Finalists: Trevor Keller, Gordon Ray, Kate Sweeney and Jack Walsh of Public Broadcasting Atlanta for “A Tale of Two Murals,” a documentary about the city’s controversial public art debate; also Lee Zurik, Jon Turnipseed and Tom Wright from WVUE-TV, New Orleans, and Manuel Torres from Times-Picayune for “Louisiana Purchased.” Their year-long investigation into the state’s questionable campaign finance system changed five state laws, launched two FBI investigations and forced politicians to return improperly collected taxpayers’ dollars.

Holly Williams and the CBS Evening News team receive the Jack R. Howard Award and $10,000 for “Holy War,” early coverage of the emergence of ISIS in Syria and Northern Iraq that included interviews from the frontlines with those who were fighting and those who were fleeing.

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: “Correspondent Holly Williams repeatedly risked her life to tell the story of the early emergence of ISIS in Syria and Northern Iraq. At one point, she was less than a mile from ISIS troops, and came under fire. In another instance, Williams was 10 miles from ISIS fighters who were threatening a Christian village in Iraq as the town leaders – including women – armed themselves and prepared to defend themselves. She interviewed ISIS fighters taken prisoner by the Iraqis, and found that one was a young boy forced to join ISIS to save his life. This early reporting of what is now an international crisis is heroic, farsighted and truly a public service.”

Finalists: Al Jazeera America’s Samuel Black, Sebastian Walker and Carrie Lozano for “Fault Lines: Chasing Bail,” an examination of the nation’s bail bond system that showed unequal administration of justice; also Scott Pelley, Henry Schuster, Rachael Kun Morehouse, Nicole Young, Warren Lustig and Matt Richman of CBS News for “60 Minutes: The Islamic State,” a report from Iraq and Syria on the rise of ISIS and life under ISIS rule.

Sarah Koenig, Julie Snyder, Dana Chivvis and Ira Glass of Serial receive the Jack R. Howard Award for in-depth radio coverage and $10,000 for “Serial: Season One,” a 12-episode podcast about the trial of Adnan Syed, who was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend in 2000.

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: “Serial broke new ground in engaging an audience in long-form investigative reporting. Sarah Koenig’s journalism and her storytelling made the public stop and just listen. Her ongoing search for the truth, as well as her transparency and humility in the reporting process, was engrossing and set a new standard for all of us.”

Finalists: Jake Bernstein of ProPublica and Brian Reed, Ira Glass and Alex Blumberg of WBEZ Chicago’s This American Life for “The Secret Recordings of Carmen Segarra.” The segment offered a rare glimpse into one of the nation’s most powerful institutions, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Also recognized as finalists are Madeleine Baran, Sasha Aslanian, Mike Edgerly and Chris Worthington from Minnesota Public Radio for “Betrayed by Silence,” revelation of a massive cover-up of clergy sex abuse by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Rob Kuznia, Rebecca Kimitch and Frank Suraci from the Daily Breeze in Torrance, California, receive the Scripps Howard Award for Community Journalism and $10,000 for “Centinela: Manipulation, Intimidation and Corruption.” Their coverage of malfeasance at a local school district led to firings, proposed state legislation and criminal investigations.

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: “With painstaking and persistent reporting, the team at the Torrance Daily Breeze exposed not only the lucrative pay and benefits package of the Centinela Valley school superintendent, but a web of relationships that cemented his position and perks. Their stories were thorough, well documented, sharply written and carefully edited for context, clarity and completeness. The resulting criminal probes by the FBI and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office underscore the impact of the newsroom’s efforts.”

Finalists: The Post-Star in Glens Falls, New York, for “Heroin Hits Home,” extensive coverage of escalating addiction – and a call to address the epidemic; also the Pacific Northwest Inlander in Spokane, Washington, for “State of Mind,” a series by Jacob Jones, Deanna Pan, Heidi Groover and Daniel Walters that exposed a regional crisis in mental health treatment that has led to death and unnecessary confinement.


Paul Rogers and Lisa M. Krieger of the San Jose Mercury News receive the Edward J. Meeman Award for Environmental Reporting and $10,000 for “California’s Historic Drought,” enterprise reporting on the politics, science and history behind the state’s disastrous dry spell.

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: “The San Jose Mercury News gave front page breaking news treatment to an increasingly familiar background story: vanishing water resources. At a time when many newspapers with shrinking staffs are scrambling to cover important stories, they produced first class coverage on the thirsty elephant in the room, helping Californians to understand and cope with what seems to be a never-ending drought. Marshaling its resources, the newspaper committed talented reporters, writers, photographers and artists to tell, in a compelling way, a complicated story that many of us may not want to read. The value of this 12-part series over many months was augmented by a collaborative online project at, an ongoing public service, with 39 partner news organizations across the state. They delivered a complicated story that many of us may not want to follow, but inescapably will.”

Finalists: Al Shaw and Brian Jacobs from ProPublica and Bob Marshall from The Lens for “Losing Ground,” a yearlong investigation into Louisiana’s rapidly disappearing coastline; also Kristen Lombardi, David Heath, Jim Morris and Chris Zubak-Skees from The Center for Public Integrity for “Exposed: Decades of Denial on Poisons,” an analysis and online archive of previously confidential oil and chemical industry documents.

Rita Price and Ben Sutherly of The Columbus Dispatch, Columbus, Ohio, receive the William Brewster Styles Award for Business/Economics Reporting and $10,000 for “Home-Care Crisis,” an examination of the fraud, poverty-level wages, and poor-quality care that have become hallmarks of one of Ohio’s fastest-growing industries.

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: “Home care is a big issue that will affect everyone in the United States, and it’s an underreported issue. During a two-and-a-half-year investigation, the Columbus Dispatch team overcame bureaucratic obstacles to uncover a home-care system rife with corruption and red tape, and a lack of regulation. The series explained the relationship between patients and care-givers in a poignant and informative way.”

Finalists: Paul Kiel from ProPublica and Chris Arnold from NPR for “Unforgiven: The Long Life of Debt,” an in-depth look at the relentless tactics lenders and collectors use to pursue consumer debt in America; also Alison Fitzgerald and Jared Bennett of The Center for Public Integrity for “Florida’s Foreclosure Crisis,” an examination of the state’s aggressive judicial foreclosure system that often ignores homeowners’ rights.


Kathleen Kingsbury of The Boston Globe receives the Walker Stone Award for Editorial Writing and $10,000 for “Service Not Included.” Her solutions-oriented series addressed the nationwide rise in income inequality by exposing abuse of workers in the restaurant industry.

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: “Kathleen Kingsbury’s editorials singled out the under-reported issue of low wages among restaurant workers and the impact that often-subsistence wages have on families, communities and the American economy. She laid bare the outsized impact of the restaurant sector on the U.S. economy, combining investigative reporting with hard-hitting facts and grace of writing. She outlines changes that should be made but doesn’t stop at calling upon the Commonwealth to pass new laws. Kingsbury also details personal actions that every customer could take to make restaurant workers’ lives better.”

Finalists: Caille Millner from the San Francisco Chronicle, whose editorials about the sex trafficking industry brought a groundswell of support for new state laws; also Tony Messenger and Kevin Horrigan from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for “Lessons from Ferguson,” editorials that offered a pathway to reform and healing following the fatal shooting of an African-American teenager by a white police officer

Stephen Henderson of The Detroit Free Press receives the Scripps Howard Award for Commentary and $10,000 for calling local elected officials to accountability with columns that gave a voice to citizens disgusted with crumbling schools and chronic crime.

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: “Stephen Henderson draws deeply from his own life experiences in analyzing Detroit’s problems and possibilities. He knows and cares deeply about his hometown and makes non-Detroiters care, too. His work is easy to read – and learn from.”

Finalists: James Gill of The Advocate in Baton Rouge, for columns about Louisiana’s vanishing coast in “Standing Up to Big Oil;” also Andrea Levy for addressing current events and hot topics in her Opinion Art that appeared regularly online on and in The Plain Dealer.


Daniel Berehulak of The New York Times receives the Scripps Howard Award for Photojournalism and $10,000 for chronicling the excruciating arc of Ebola’s deadly spread across West Africa.


“The images bear witness in the most poignant, relevant and revealing storytelling way. Daniel Berehulak’s body of work is pure, eye-to-eye impact. He is a visual servant for humanity, teaching us so much about the initial horrors of the Ebola outbreak.”

Finalists: Robert Cohen of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for a diverse portfolio that showcased daily life, economic disparity and months of protests in Ferguson, Missouri; also Renée C. Byer of The Sacramento Bee for photo essays that documented extreme poverty on four continents and sensitized local residents to inequities close to home.


Albert R. Tims, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Minnesota, receives the Charles E. Scripps Journalism and Mass Communication Administrator of the Year Award and $10,000.

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: “Albert Tims doesn’t just talk excellence, but walks the proverbial walk when it comes to developing 21st century media experiences for his students and faculty.”

Finalists: Michael J. Bugeja from the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, Iowa State University; also Eileen Wirth from the Journalism Department at Creighton University.

Carol Schwalbe from the School of Journalism at The University of Arizona receives the Charles E. Scripps Journalism and Mass Communication Teacher of the Year Award and $10,000.

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: “From course design to the execution of a high-quality science journalism program, from grant-writing to promotion of student work, Carol Schwalbe offers students an innovative, creative science journalism education that produces forward-thinking, creative writers.”

Finalists: Carolina Acosta-Alzuru of Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, The University of Georgia; also Kathleen B. Culver of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

A program book and videos featuring recipients of 2014 Scripps Howard Awards will be available at after the May 21 presentations. The book and videos will be available along with the award-winning entries at Video featuring the winning educators will be added to the two sites after the Aug. 6 AEJMC presentations.

Dedicated to excellence in journalism, the Scripps Howard Foundation ( is the philanthropic arm of The E.W. Scripps Company, and is a leader in industry efforts in journalism education, scholarships, internships, minority recruitment and development, literacy and First Amendment causes. With a special commitment to the regions where Scripps does business, the Foundation helps build healthy communities and improve the quality of life through support of sound educational programs, strong families, vital social services, enriching arts and culture and inclusive civic affairs.

The E.W. Scripps Company ( serves audiences and businesses through a growing portfolio of media brands. In July, Scripps announced a deal with Journal Communications to merge its 21 local television stations with Journal’s 12 television stations and 34 radio stations, which will make Scripps the nation’s fifth-largest broadcasting group. The two companies also agreed to spin off their combined newspaper interests to form a new publicly traded company, to be called Journal Media Group. Scripps runs an expanding collection of local and national digital journalism and information businesses, including mobile video news service Newsy and weather app developer WeatherSphere. Scripps also produces television shows including The List and Let’s Ask America, runs an award-winning investigative reporting newsroom in Washington, D.C., and serves as the steward of the nation’s largest, most successful and longest-running educational program, the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Contact Sue Porter, The E. W. Scripps Company, 513-977-3030