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Howard Center

Howard Center's 'Printing Hate' Project Wins IRE Medal, IRE Award

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COLLEGE PARK – “Printing Hate,” an unprecedented collaborative project led by the University of Maryland’s Howard Center for Investigative Journalism, on Wednesday was awarded one of two medals issued to exemplary projects by the organization Investigative Reporters & Editors.

A remarkable exploration of the racist past of white-owned newspapers, “Printing Hate” also won the 2021 IRE Award in the Student - Large category.

The judges wrote: “As the mainstream media reckons with its racist past, this collaborative project went well beyond any of those efforts to show the complicity of newspapers in race-based violence by creating a permanent archive of the very hate-filled pages. In an interactive database and presentation and through more than a dozen stories of the lives lost, this effort ensures that this history is not tucked away in an archive and forgotten. The judges quickly realized this project was IRE Medal-worthy.”

“Printing Hate” was also named a finalist for the News Leaders Association's 2022 Punch Sulzberger Innovator of the Year Award, a professional honor sponsored by The New York Times.

The Howard Center recruited 60 journalism students from UMD’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism, Hampton University, Howard University, Morehouse College, Morgan State University, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University and the University of Arkansas. They came together to document the racial hate and violence incited by white-owned newspapers during the Jim Crow era.

“Inspired by the work of Merrill Associate Professor DeNeen Brown, our students took to heart the importance of creating a permanent record of newspapers’ past sins," Howard Center Director Kathy Best said. “I could not be prouder of them, of my colleagues here at Maryland and of the visiting professionals who made this important work possible."

Students examined newspapers published between 1865 and 1965, using computational journalism methods to extract information using large-scale text analysis from digital archives containing more than 5,000 newspapers.

Once they identified particularly egregious coverage, they dug deeply into census records and other historical manuscripts to identify and locate descendants, interviewed historians and contemporary experts on lynching, and talked to current and former newspaper editors about what responsibility, if any, modern papers have for addressing their pasts. 

That resulted in more than 40 student-generated stories, as well as a short documentary, static and motion graphics, photos and audio. A database published in December significantly expanded the scope of the project. It includes historic examples from nearly 70 additional newspapers that featured racist local coverage of lynchings. All of the papers in the database are still published today in some form.

The Howard Center is generously funded by $3 million from the Scripps Howard Foundation and the “Printing Hate” project was supported by the Park Foundation.

For more information, contact:
Josh Land

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