Nieman News

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (March 18, 2005) — “Last Chance High,” a series by The Star-Ledger of Newark about an alternative school for teenagers with serious behavioral problems, has received the Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Newspapers.

Reporter Robin Gaby Fisher and photographer Matt Rainey spent more than 10 months following the lives of students and faculty at the Valley School in Orange, N.J. All the teenagers enrolled here have been expelled from their neighborhood schools. If not for this opportunity to continue their education, Fisher quotes the principal as saying, “most of them would be in jail — or worse.”

The Taylor Fairness Award judges praised the Star-Ledger stories and photographs for being “exceedingly fair to the students involved, to their teachers and administrators, the educational system, the families and society in a portrayal that was fully dimensional.” The judges especially noted that none of the stories used unnamed sources or unattributed information.

The Taylor Fairness Award, for work published in daily newspapers during 2004, carries a $10,000 prize. The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard administers the program.

The judges also recognized two finalists:

* Akron Beacon Journal for the series “Home Schooling: Whose Business Is It?” reported by Dennis J. Willard and Doug Oplinger.
* The Orange County Register for “Toxic Treats,” an investigative report about lead in imported candy, with stories by Jenifer B. McKim, Keith Sharon, William Heisel, Valeria Godines and Hanh Kim Quach.

The winner and finalists will be recognized at a dinner and panel discussion on Thursday, April 7, at the Nieman Foundation in Cambridge, Mass.

The Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Newspapers was established through gifts for an endowment by members of the Taylor family, which published The Boston Globe from 1872 to 1999. The purpose of the award is to encourage fairness in news coverage by America’s daily newspapers.

William O. Taylor, chairman emeritus of the Globe, embraced the idea of an award for fairness in newspapers as a way to give something back to the craft in which five generations of his family devoted their working lives. The Taylor family’s 127-year stewardship of the Globe was characterized by an enduring commitment to fairness. At his invitation, the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard agreed to administer the prize.

The judges for the 2005 Taylor Fairness Award are Michael D. Sallah, a lead reporter on last year’s winner from The Toledo Blade; Christine Chinlund, ombudsman for The Boston Globe; Chris Waddle, vice president/news, The Anniston Star, and president, the Ayers Family Institute for Community Journalism; and Melinda Patterson Grenier, Nieman Foundation senior Web editor. Nieman Curator Bob Giles is the chair of the jury.


Winner: The Toledo Blade
Finalists: The Wall Street Journal and The Des Moines Register

Winner: The Boston Globe
Finalists: The Plain-Dealer of Cleveland and The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Winner: The Hartford Courant
Finalists: The Sun of Baltimore and The Times-Picayune of New Orleans

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