The Miami Herald captured one of the nations top journalism awards for its stories exposing deaths and wretched conditions in Floridas assisted living conditions.
Reporters Michael Sallah, Carol Marbin Miller and Rob Barry received the 2012 Heywood Broun Award for their series, Neglected to Death, which revealed that elders and people with mental illness were dying of abuse and neglect nearly once a month in ALFs since 2002, but the state rarely if ever shut down the homes during the same period.
The Broun award, which is given by the Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America, is named in memory of the late columnist known for his passionate championing of the underdog.
Contest judges said the stories exposed a gut-wrenching epidemic of elder abuses and deaths in Floridas ALFs. The series of stories was chosen from among 78 entries nationwide.
Through the aggressive pursuit of records, shoe-leather reporting, and vivid writing, the Heralds reporting team delivered journalism that was hard-hitting, fair, and life-altering, the panel said in a statement. With Florida the home to the nations largest percentage of seniors, the importance of the series cannot be overstated.
Its hard to imagine a better piece of journalism, concluded the panel. This epitomizes the role of the newspaper as watchdog to the community that it serves.
The series, which prompted the shut down of more than a dozen facilities and the states harshest penalties against three dozen others, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. The stories were edited by Jay Ducassi and Ronnie Greene.
The reporters will formally receive their award, which comes with a $5,000 check, at a dinner October 16 in Baltimore.
In addition to The Heralds top award, other citations of distinction were awarded to The New York Times, National Public Radio and the Center for Public Integrity.