AHCJ members’ work honored by Journalism Center on Children & Families

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Congratulations to the AHCJ members who earned 2010 Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism for “distinguished coverage of disadvantaged children, youth and families.” Entries from AHCJ members who won are summarized below, with member names in bold and include comments from the Journalism Center on Children & Families.

PROJECT/SERIES: Over 200,000 circulation

Honorable mention: “Dubious Medicine,” Chicago Tribune, Trine Tsouderos, Patricia Callahan and George Papajohn

The Chicago Tribune courageously challenges doctors who peddle alternative autism remedies to parents desperate for help. Through inquisitive, fact-based reporting, the series exposes the flimsy science behind the anecdotal testimonials that underpin uncontrolled experimentation on children.

This piece also won an Award for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. See a tip sheet prepared by the reporters and the contest questionnaire in which the reporters write about how this story was written.

PROJECT/SERIES: Under 200,000 circulation

Winner: “Fatal Care,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Gina Barton, Crocker Stephenson and Kristyna Wentz-Graff

This team went beyond the story of one child’s death in foster care to discover that 22 additional children died as a result of systemic neglect. The series features in-depth reporting matched with a strong analysis. The sidebars, graphs, photographs and a review of thousands of records add to the stories’ impact. It’s a series that got results, including a new state law that holds welfare officials accountable for the children under their watch.


Honorable mention: “School of Second Chances,” The Washington Post Magazine, Karen Houppert, Sydney Trent, Lisa Frazier and Beth Chang

A well-reported and powerfully written account of the Washington, D.C., Oak Hill Correctional Facility’s charter school and its efforts to overcome myriad challenges.


Winner: “For Their Own Good,” Houston Press, Chris Vogel and Margaret Downing

Who knew that sheriff’s officials in Harris County, Texas, were placing children as young as 15 in solitary confinement, bereft of counseling, physical activity and education? No one, apparently – not even the judges who sent them there. With dogged reporting and compelling writing, Vogel exposes a justice system that seems to have given up on its most vulnerable. The project prompted outrage and action, among legislators, academics and advocates.


Runner-up: “The Price of Miracles,” The Providence (R.I.) Journal, Felice J. Freyer, Kathy Borchers, Susan Areson, Beth Heaney, Michael Foran, Maria Caporizzo, Tony LaRoche and Cecilia Prestamo

Each installment of this series on the costs and consequences of premature births is captivating and masterfully executed. The story flows from print to video to user-friendly charts and graphics, and the diversity of subjects presents a broad spectrum of perspective and effect.

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