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Published: Tuesday, 7/30/2013

Blade’s gang series wins national honor

Gannett award given for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism

BLADE STAFF AND NEWS REPORTS

NEW YORK — The Blade has been named a winner in the annual Associated Press Media Editors’ Journalism Excellence Awards for a four-day series that ran this spring on gang violence in Toledo.

More than 30 winners were announced in the 2013 contest in varying categories for media organizations.

“Overall, we saw incredible amounts of watchdog and enterprise reporting, as well as news innovation. I find that very encouraging for our industry,” said APME President Brad Dennison.

The Blade won a Gannett Foundation Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism for its “Battle Lines: Gangs of Toledo” series. The Blade published its own gang map created with the assistance of active and former gang members, as well as numerous enterprise pieces, photographs, and videos as part of the series that ran in April. The award includes $2,500 in prize money.

Blade staff writer Taylor Dungjen reported on and wrote the series; photographs and videos were taken by staff photographer Amy Voigt.

“The innovation in this entry started with the newspaper’s decision to go around public officials who were either refusing to release a map of Toledo gang territories [a public record] or, in the case of the mayor, denying that the city even has gangs,” the judges wrote in their comments. “Clearly, Toledo does have gangs, and the gutsy Blade reporter and photographer recruited gang members to draw a map of gang territories in the city.

“The journalists also gained enough trust from the gangs to get an inside look and show Blade readers how much gang activity is going on and where. The innovation continued with The Blade’s interactive map, and the creative and well-done videos added to the robust report.

“This was multimedia storytelling at its best: compelling writing, powerful videos and photos, and standout graphics,” the comments continued.

There were 244 entries in the contests this year, including those for separate AP staff awards. The awards will be presented at a luncheon during a conference in Indianapolis on Oct. 30.

APME also said three media companies are finalists for its seventh annual Innovator of the Year, one of which was a finalist last year.

The Asbury Park Press in New Jersey was voted as the 43rd annual Public Service Best of Show for its multiplatform news coverage as well as its online Resource Center for Superstorm Sandy. The award carries a $1,500 prize.

The 75,000 and below circulation-level winner for the Gannett Foundation Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism was The Journal News, White Plains, N.Y., for “District in Crisis.”

Judges for the Watchdog Journalism awards were: Alan Miller, managing editor, The Columbus Dispatch; Jim Simon, assistant managing editor, the Seattle Times; Debra Adams Simmons, editor, the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer; Brad Dennison, president/​large daily division, GateHouse Media Inc.; and Kurt Franck, executive editor, The Blade.

Judges did not participate in discussions or vote on categories involving their own news organizations’ entries.

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State University was winner of the Second Annual Innovator of the Year Award for College Students for “Campus Lifeline: A Report on College Suicide,” a special project that examined suicide, the second-leading cause of death among college students.



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