Bridge wins 19 awards from Society of Professional Journalists

Bridge swept online general news and investigative categories on its way to winning 19 awards last week at an annual awards ceremony of the Detroit chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists.

Weeks after being named “Newspaper of the Year” in its division for the second consecutive year by the Michigan Press Association, Bridge took three first-place awards from the SPJ, three second-place, three third-place and eight honorable mention awards. Bridge also shared a first place and second place award with its media partners.

The awards were for stories that ran covered topics as diverse as the Flint water crisis and misappropriation of welfare money to mass transit and childcare.

Here are the winners:

Online General News

First place:  “Flint water crisis coverage” by John Bebow, Chastity Pratt Dawsey, Ron French and Nancy Derringer.

Judges called the series of stories that examined the state of Michigan’s role in the lead contamination of Flint’s water supply “a stellar reflection of savvy journalists' familiarity with community and the outside politics that control it.”

“Story after story emerged from public documents, and on deadline that itself was quite a lift….,” the judges wrote. “This is environmental and political and health journalism that will be a reference far into the future.

Second place: “Michigan and the death of entrepreneurship” by Mike Wilkinson

Third place: “Michigan’s college dropout dilemma” by French

Honorable mention: “Michigan’s laggard childcare system” by Derringer  

Online investigative reporting

First place:State misuse of welfare dollars” by Wilkinson. Judges said the story about how private colleges redirect money intended for the poor showed “a welfare system that has completely lost its sense of moral purpose, with little hope for another round of reform without the intervention of data-based journalism in the public interest.”

“This is the stuff that, if Washington is listening, leads to congressional inquiries,” the judges wrote.

Second place: In Lansing, where potentially self-serving votes run rampant” by French and Craig Mauger of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network

Third place: “School choice, metro Detroit’s new white flight” by Wilkinson and Pratt Dawsey

Honorable mention:Detroit charter school investigation” by Pratt Dawsey

Online best localization of a national story

First place: Betsy DeVos nomination” by Wilkinson and Pratt Dawsey.

The judges praised the stories that examined the record of the U.S. Secretary of Education, saying that above all other contest entrants, “none can probably make a bigger difference than this one.”

Honorable mention:Trump’s tax audit and his bid for a Detroit casino” by Rick Haglund

Online spot or breaking news

Second place: “Election analysis” by Wilkinson, Derringer and French

Online feature story

Honorable mention: People need jobs. Factories need workers. Busing, a love story” by Pratt Dawsey

Honorable mention: “How to take wildlife pictures like a boss this summer” by Eric Sharp

Online Consumer/Watchdog reporting

Third place: “Metro Detroit mass transit ballot proposal” by Derringer

Honorable mention: “Michigan’s aging voting machines, a catastrophe waiting to happen” by French

Honorable mention: “Ranking Michigan colleges by social mobility” by French

Lindsay VanHulle, who covers business and Lansing for both Bridge and Crain’s Detroit Business, won an honorable mention award in the general print news category for her examination of a state proposal to allow developers to capture state and income taxes for major projects. The article appeared in both Crain’s and Bridge.

The Detroit Journalism Cooperative also won a first place award for digital media presentation category and a second place award for online best localization of a national story for its year-long project, “The Intersection,” which examined the 1967 civil unrest in Detroit and its lingering effects.

Bridge is a convening partner of the Detroit Journalism Cooperative a joint effort with Detroit Public Television, WDET Detroit Public Radio, Michigan Radio, and five ethnic publications of New Michigan Media: The Arab American News, Latino Press, The Jewish News, MI Asian and The Michigan Chronicle. (A sixth partner, Chalkbeat Detroit, joined the DJC this year).

The SPJ event also named Joel Kurth, who was recently hired as Bridge’s Detroit editor, as co-Journalist of the Year. He shared the award with his former colleague, Karen Bouffard, for their investigation into dirty instruments at the Detroit Medical Center, which was published in The Detroit News.

Bridge is produced by the Center for Michigan to provide in-depth, policy-based journalism from around the state.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

If you learned something from the story you're reading please consider supporting our work. Your donation allows us to keep our Michigan-focused reporting and analysis free and accessible to all. All donations are voluntary, but for as little as $1 you can become a member of Bridge Club and support freedom of the press in Michigan during a crucial election year.

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Donate now

Comment Form

Add new comment

Dear Reader: We value your thoughts and criticism on the articles, but insist on civility. Criticizing comments or ideas is welcome, but Bridge won’t tolerate comments that are false or defamatory or that demean, personally attack, spread hate or harmful stereotypes. Violating these standards could result in a ban.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


Pat Laarman
Tue, 04/25/2017 - 9:02am

Not having an index is a disappointment

Barbara Cherem
Tue, 04/25/2017 - 9:13am

Where's Kalamazoo-college, one college that's got great scholarship packages and a genuine commitment to high diversity, right after Wayne State on the diversity index? I'd guess it'd fall right around range of Ferris. U of M Ann Arbor looks way lowball to me having put a kid through there a decade ago when it was higher than quote now?!

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 12:36pm

Aren't these awards sort of like the members of a political party voting on the best politicians?