As shameless as it sometimes feels to celebrate awards, it’s also true that journalists are underpaid, underappreciated, and in some cases even relentlessly harassed because of their work. Since that is the case, we are humbled but nevertheless excited to announce that some of our finest have been honored by the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN) once again. The outlets that comprise AAN are doing some of the most ambitious reporting anywhere, and this year the competition came in the form of more than 600 entries submitted by 55 alternative publications across the US and Canada.
Congratulations to BINJ Executive Director Jason Pramas, whose Apparent Horizon won second place in the Political Column category. Jason came in first place for Political Column in 2018 and with the work he has been doing this year is sure to be a contender in 2020, when the annual AAN conference will be held in Boston. Jason submitted columns about the Merrimack Valley natural gas disaster, Gov. Charlie Baker’s Surveillance Plan, and the future of floods and environmental devastation in Boston.
Also props to Maya Shaffer, who won third place in the Free Speech & Open Government category for “The Massachusetts Public Records Law Fails Three out of Three Times,” a hands-on impugnment of our state’s fumbled efforts to update public information regulations, which in some ways demonstrably made government even less transparent than it already was. Maya’s work over the years in this realm has been inspiring, and this sort of national recognition is long overdue.
We also had the honor of giving out a prize of our own, the “BINJ Award,” named for our nonprofit, the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, which we sponsored to acknowledge the “Best Nonprofit Collaboration.” In working with editors and publishers across the country to start their own 501(c)3 arms to do deep investigations, we have encouraged people to link up with reporting and community partners as much as possible—whether it’s a housing rights organization that has compiled valuable research, or a national media outlet that can bring serious resources to the table.
We are happy to announce that the first-ever BINJ Award went to INDY Week (North Carolina) for “The Cheat Sheet Taught N.C. Prosecutors How to Get Rid of Black Jurors.” The dig was spearheaded by Jacob Biba for the Appeal, while INDY Week was brought on to add a local angle, help authenticate and fact check, and co-publish the feature. The other top contenders also exemplified the power of shared information and resources. You can find links to their projects below:
- 3rd PLACE: INDY Week, with NC Health News: State Law Orders Insurers to Cover Autism Therapies. Why Are So Many Families Going Without? by Sarah Ovaska-Few