Miami Herald, Wall Street Journal, USA Today win APME honors

(AP) — The Miami Herald, Wall Street Journal and USA Today were among the news organizations that won top honors in the annual Associated Press Media Editors’ Journalism Excellence Awards.

“Challenges in our industry clearly have not diminished the quality of investigative, watchdog reporting in the United States,” Alan D. Miller, president of APME and managing editor/news for The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, said Wednesday in announcing the awards. “It’s inspiring to read through the many entries in this year’s contest and see not only great journalism but also the responses to it.”

“These stories, whether in print or online, have so affected readers that they have taken action or pressed public officials to take action to right wrongs and fix problems that have affected millions of people,” Miller said. “The world is a better place because of the excellent work done by these journalists.”

The Herald won the 45th Annual Public Service Award in the large circulation category for “Innocents Lost,” its investigation of child deaths ascribed to abuse or neglect after Florida reduced the number of children in state care. The series was written by Carol Marbin Miller and Audra D.S. Burch. The Herald series also won the Best of Show award, sponsored by the APME Foundation, which carries a $1,500 prize.

“The death of a child is tragic, but the deaths of more than 500 children in state care is a tragedy of epic proportions — and criminal,” the judges said in honoring the Herald. “The depth of reporting allowed for such strong writing that a reader would be compelled to keep reading. And the government would be compelled to act, as it has. … This is the epitome of public service reporting.”

The Wall Street Journal won the Tom Curley First Amendment Sweepstakes Award for “Medicare Unmasked,” which forced the federal government to make public Medicare data that had been kept secret for decades.

USA Today’s project “Fugitives Next Door” won the First Amendment Award in the large circulation category for revealing how law enforcement agencies let fugitives go free. The Herald received an honorable mention in that category for “Cruel and Unusual,” a series of stories by Julie K. Brown on unexplained deaths in the Florida prison system.

In the new Community Engagement category, the Sarasota (Florida) Herald-Tribune was cited among small circulation publications for “Newtown 100: A Legacy of Struggle and Triumph,” a series on an African-American community and its rich history, voices, successes and struggles.

In Digital Storytelling, the Herald-Tribune won in the 40,000 to 149,999 circulation category for “Home to Havana,” a story about a family’s return to Cuba. The Herald-Tribune also won the International Perspectives Award in its circulation category for the Havana story.