GateHouse Media newspapers recognized by Associated Press Media Editors


Four GateHouse Media newspapers were recently recognized at the Associated Press Media Editors‘ annual contest, which honors excellence and innovation in journalism.

The Sarasota, Florida, Herald-Tribune won the Public Service Award for newspapers with a 40,000 to 149,000 circulation for “Bias on the Bench.”

Judges said:

For its outstanding work documenting significant racial inequities across Florida in sentencing, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune is the winner in a strong category of entries. “Bias on the Bench” analyzed sentencing patterns of trial judges, revealing that blacks frequently received far longer sentences than whites convicted of similar crimes. Sarasota dug into data, documenting discrepancies across the state and looking at some individual judges whose sentencing was fraught with racial injustice.

The Springfield, Illinois, State Journal-Register won the Public Service Award for newspapers with up to a 39,000 circulation for “Enough.”

Judges said:

Illinois lawmakers’ inability to agree on a state budget has become a national example of political inertia. The State Journal-Register led a collaborative statewide effort to show the impact of the budget stalemate. Newspapers across Illinois decried the legislative inaction through stories, editorials and columns, prompting tens of thousands citizens to respond. The State Journal-Register’s leadership was particularly impressive and unique since editorials drove their call for action. This was a strong example of leadership, determination and ingenuity.

The Peoria, Illinois, Journal Star won the First Amendment Award for newspapers with up to a 39,999 circulation for “Police Report Unmasked.”

Judges said:

By waging a 2 ½-year battle with the city of Peoria to obtain a police officer’s report about her colleagues’ and supervisors’ misuse of on-the-clock time, the Journal Star proved it had the moxie — and was willing to commit to resources — to fight hard for records that properly belong to the public. The Journal Star litigated the case to the appellate level, winning at every turn, and produced an investigative report — “Police Report Unmasked” — that revealed how officers went home or did other personal activities while they were on the taxpayer-funded clock. The police chief and many other department leaders ultimately left the city or were reassigned.

The Peoria, Illinois, Journal Star won the Community Engagement Award for newspapers with up to a 74,999 circulation for “City of Disparity.”

Judges said:

The City of Disparity project shows what can be accomplished by a small local staff with deep commitment to community engagement. An impressive turnaround for the paper’s image and meaning to the local community. The most meaningful part is the engagement is ongoing with agencies, city officials and the community. The project’s success rests in the community learning troubling facts about itself. This project was sure to spark conversation.

The Sarasota, Florida, Herald-Tribune earned an honorable mention for the Al Neuharth Award for Investigative Reporting for newspapers with a circulation up to 74,999 for “Bias on the Bench.”

Judges said:

At the heart of this entry was impressive analysis of tens of millions of records. That analysis and the study and reporting that surrounded it were presented in a sophisticated package that was as effective on digital platforms as it was in print. It’s no wonder it went viral, and no wonder state lawmakers were quick to act.

Corina Curry of the Rockford, Illinois, Register Star earned an honorable mention for the News Reporting Award for newspapers with a circulation up to 39,999 for “Sub Nation.”

Judges said:

Education reporter Corina Curry identified a potentially problematic trend and decided to find out the impact, not only on the region she covers but in other communities across the country. The breadth of her reporting on this important issue, which included filing dozens of records requests in myriad states, was impressive, especially coming from a smaller media outlet. That broader context was essential to giving Curry’s readers a full understanding of the increasing use of substitute teachers. The database is an added bonus. The graphics were attractive and informative.

For more information, visit the Associated Press Media Editors.