COLLEGE PARK (6/18/19) — The University of Maryland Capital News Service and Associated Press published a series of stories Tuesday after spending months investigating why mentally ill people are killing themselves in jails across the United States.
The project, the result of a partnership between the AP, seven Philip Merrill College of Journalism master’s students and more than 50 undergraduate students, has been picked up by news organizations across the country, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and U.S. News & World Report.
Merrill College students Riin Aljas, Elliott Davis, Theresa Diffendal, Nora Eckert, Hannah Gaskill, Samantha Hawkins, Roxanne Ready, James Crabtree-Hannigan and Jessica Feldman — working in the CNS investigative bureau — collaborated with AP’s U.S. enterprise editor, Pauline Arrillaga, and AP reporter Sharon Cohen.
The bureau, supported by the Park Foundation, is led by Associate Professor Deborah Nelson. Nelson also taught the media law course and data gathering and analysis course in which students helped build a database of court cases that were critical to reporting on jail suicides across the country. Howard Center data editor Sean Mussenden assisted.
Capital News Service is Merrill College’s nonprofit, student-staffed news organization led by faculty members with distinguished journalism experience. CNS has bureaus and news teams in Annapolis, Baltimore, College Park and Washington whose efforts are coordinated by Managing Director Marty Kaiser.
This fall, the CNS investigative bureau will be embedded in the new Howard Center for Investigative Journalism. The center, funded by the Scripps Howard Foundation in honor of Roy W. Howard, is led by Director Kathy Best. It seeks to tell stories of national and international importance while training the next generation of watchdog reporters.