2023 Features (Broadcast) Winners

Talia Richman, Chris Benderev & Bethel Habte, The Dallas Morning News & This American Life

About the Winners:

Talia Richman and Chris Benderev teamed up to report the story of Lisa and her 13-year-old daughter, Madison, to a national audience. A local principal kicked Madison out of eighth grade after she tried to report a potential shooting threat.

The school’s actions seemed crazy – and racist – to Lisa. So, she fought back. One of her weapons for doing so was her phone. She recorded all conversations she had with Madison’s school principals. She also recorded hours of appeals hearings, in which she successfully fought to get her daughter’s punishment overturned.

Talia and Chris pored through hours of Lisa’s recordings. The audio is full of heartbreaking and confounding moments, like when – during the appeal hearing – Madison is questioned by her school principal. The principal asks Madison how her mind went from “Don’t come to school tomorrow” to the idea of a gun threat. The short exchange says so much about the pressure children are forced to live with amid frequent school shootings, these uniquely American tragedies that adults have taken no meaningful action to stop.

Comments From the Judges:

“[Phenomenal] story. Intimate. Emotional. This is what radio should be. I was completely gripped by the injustice. The entire thing was surprising and disturbing. The description in the submission was good – this was a vital learning experience for adults in charge.”

“An incredibly powerful piece of storytelling. Humanizing, timely, and important reminder that authoritative figures don’t know it all. A great reminder to trust the instincts and lived experiences of the younger generation who are living in the immediate stress of continued school shootings.”

Photo credits: This American Life/Klaus Kremmerz