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.