COLLEGE PARK (4/27/20) — The climate change collaboration from the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism’s Howard Center for Investigative Journalism, NPR and Capital News Service has been named the recipient of the prestigious Punch Sulzberger Award for Innovative Storytelling, the News Leaders Association announced Monday.
“Code Red: Baltimore’s Climate Divide,” the Howard Center’s inaugural project, was selected in the “Small” category for staffs of 50 or fewer. The winner in both size brackets earned a cash prize. This marks the fourth major professional award won by the project.
“Code Red” explored the disproportionate impact a warming climate has on residents of primarily poor, urban neighborhoods. The findings of the months-long investigation were presented in stories, photos, graphics, videos and interactives. NPR produced national stories connected to the partnership that aired on “All Things Considered” and “Morning Edition.”
This is the second year of the NLA Awards, continuing the long traditions of the previously separate ASNE and APME Awards, among the most prestigious in journalism. The Punch Sulzberger Award recognizes excellence and innovation in the use of digital tools to tell news stories. In determining a winner, judges considered strong writing, narrative skill, engaging graphical and visual elements, and compelling audio.
“Beyond the innovative use of sensor technology and data journalism, the team had to engage and earn the trust of their community by conducting extensive on-the-ground reporting,” the NLA judges wrote. “The result was a compelling, data-centric and visually-rich series that bring both a local and an equity lens to climate change reporting.”
The project previously claimed three major professional awards, most recently winning a Scripps Howard Award in the Topic of the Year category. It was named the 2019 recipient of the National Press Foundation’s Innovative Storytelling Award, which was won by The Washington Post the three prior years. It also earned honorable mention in the 2019 Philip Meyer Journalism Award competition.
Additionally, the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation named the project one of 10 finalists for its Digital Media Award. The winner will be announced later this spring.
“The ‘Code Red’ project was a milestone for our students, faculty and professional partners,” Merrill College Dean Lucy A. Dalglish said. “Perhaps no other student-produced project has had this kind of success on the major professional awards circuit. We are enormously excited about what these awards say about the real-world journalism experiences Merrill College students receive working with professional partners like NPR.”
Thanks @NewsEditors! This is a terrific honor for our young journalists and talented faculty and shows the power of collaborative journalism, especially if @NPR is your partner. https://t.co/vu8rtdj6qz
— Kathy Best (@kbest) April 27, 2020
Sponsored by The New York Times, this award is dedicated to the memory of former publisher Arthur Ochs “Punch” Sulzberger. In 1963, Sulzberger became the youngest publisher in Times history at age 37. He chose to publish excerpts of the Pentagon Papers in 1971, a move that earned the newspaper a Pulitzer Prize the following year. He died in 2012.
“Code Red” premiered in September on CNS, NPR, Baltimore’s WMAR-TV and The Associated Press. AP distributed the project nationwide; stories appeared on more than 700 national and regional news websites, including The Washington Post and ABC News. The Baltimore Sun also published the full project.
“Code Red” was supported by the Scripps Howard Foundation and grants from the Park Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Online News Association’s Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education.