2013 Single-Topic News or Feature for Print/Online (Medium Staff) Winner

Benjamin Herold, Dale Mezzacappa, Kimberly Paynter, Michelle Schmitt, Paul Socolar, Todd Vachon | Philadelphia Public School Notebook and WHYY/Newsworks

“Coverage of Philadelphia School Closings”

Judges’ Comments

“The work of Benjamin Herold and his colleagues in this series asks — and answers — all the right questions about Philadelphia’s school closures. This series does this without taking the easy way out — neither vilifying the school district for closing schools nor parroting opponents talking points without asking hard questions first. The data mining that shows how Philly got to a city full of hollowed-out schools and the even-handed look at the too-real possibility of gang alliances crossing at certain schools show a deep understanding of Philadelphia schools today and historically. Their work appears to have even played a role in sparing two schools from closure.”

“The articles display thorough and balanced reporting that explained the financial rationale for closing near-empty schools while deploying strong anecdotes and quotes to show the emotional attachments of people in the neighborhood. Benjamin employed clever methods to tell the buildings’ stories, tracking down grownups who as students were quoted in 1970s news articles”