VPR And Seven Days Win 2020 National Edward R. Murrow Award For Investigative Reporting
Vermont Public Radio and Seven Days have won a 2020 National Edward R. Murrow Award for their 2019 series “Worse For Care,” a joint investigation into Vermont’s assisted living and residential care homes for the elderly. The award for Investigative Reporting in the Small Market Radio Division was presented by the Radio Television Digital News Association on October 10.
“It’s an honor to win for a collaborative journalism project that pulled together the best reporting, editing and data skills at our two organizations,” said Sarah Ashworth, VPR’s vice president of news. “By working together we were able to do something much larger in scale than we would have been able to do alone. It’s a good reminder that when two organizations set aside competitive pressures and work toward a common goal, we can have a big impact.”
VPR and Seven Days reporters obtained five and a half years’ worth of complaints and state inspections, detailed in thousands of pages of documents. The series revealed troubling patterns of inadequate care that led to dozens of injuries and indignities, and at least five deaths.
“Worse for Care” was produced at VPR by Emily Corwin and Mark Davis, and at Seven Days by Derek Brouwer, Matthew Roy, Candace Page and James Buck. In addition to a series of print, digital and on-air stories over four weeks, the project included Vermont Elder Care Navigator, a searchable database at eldercare.sevendaysvt.com, built by Seven Days data editor Andrea Suozzo, and populated by the project team.
"This project was months in the making," said Seven Days news editor Matthew Roy. "In November 2018, both of our newsrooms reported that the State of Vermont had seized control of three eldercare facilities from an out-of-state owner after food shortages and financial problems. That's what prompted Andrea Suozzo to file our initial public records requests in January 2019. Unlike nursing homes, which are regulated by the federal government, Vermont's eldercare facilities are monitored by the state and the recordkeeping discourages public scrutiny. This series helped shed light on the cracks in the system, and made the state's inspection reports readily accessible. It also familiarized our newsrooms with these issues — knowledge that has helped us cover the coronavirus pandemic."
Since 1971, RTDNA has been honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast and digital journalism with the Edward R. Murrow Awards. Among the most prestigious in news, the Murrow Awards recognize local and national news stories that uphold the RTDNA Code of Ethics, demonstrate technical expertise and exemplify the importance and impact of journalism as a service to the community. Murrow Award-winning work demonstrates the excellence that Edward R. Murrow made a standard for the broadcast news profession. A full list of 2020 award winners is available here.
In addition to the Murrow Award, “Worse For Care” won an Association of Alternative Newsmedia award — first place in the Innovation category. The AAN awards recognize the most artful, compelling and courageous journalism produced each year by the alternative newsmedia. AAN member publications vary in size and circulation; publications such as the Austin Chronicle, Chicago Reader and Seven Days compete against each other. This year’s competition consisted of entries submitted by 55 publications in the U.S., Canada and Norway.