Washington Post reporter Terrence McCoy’s eight-part series on the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody in Baltimore won the Grand Prize for writing and reporting in 2015 from the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild. McCoy will receive his award at the Guild’s Front Page Awards ceremony in September.
McCoy’s series went beyond Gray’s death and the aftermath of protests in Baltimore. He investigated the conditions that Gray and thousands of other African-American men were raised in – in particular the effects of lead poisoning. Notably, his series exposed how victims of such illnesses are exploited when they try to recover damages, with firms offering settlements worth pennies on the dollar and pressuring the victims and their families into accepting them.
The exposure of those settlement buyouts resulted in a state investigation, legislative and court action to curb the abuses, and, ultimately, regulation in how those firms must interact with victims, all reported by McCoy – despite some threats. The Front Page Awards judges were unanimous in their praise of the public service his series performed.
(McCoy’s work also was honored by WBNG’s parent union, The NewsGuild. In July it was announced that McCoy was named this year’s winner of the Heywood Broun Award.)
McCoy was one of two Grand Prize winners who will receive honors, including a cash prize, at the Guild’s ceremony. The Grand Prize For Photography, by the Baltimore Sun’s Kim Hairston, titled “Saturday Protester Jumps,” also arose out of the Freddie Gray aftermath. It shows a protester against the death jumping on the flatbed of a truck and exhorting a crowd. Hairston also won the award for Local News Photography.
WBNG FRONT PAGE AWARDS
Morton Mintz Award for Public Service or Investigative Reporting: McCoy was the winner. Honorable Mention went to Kevin Rector, Baltimore Sun, “In 45 Minutes, Freddie Gray Was Fatally Injured.”
Distinguished National News Reporting: Amena Sayid, Bloomberg-BNA, “Plastic Microbeads In Waters Prompt Regulatory Efforts.” Honorable Mention went to Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post, “As Encryption Spreads, U.S. grapples With Clash Between Security, Privacy.”
Distinguished Local News Reporting: Tom Jackman, Washington Post, “Geer Had Hands Up When Shot By Police.” Honorable Mentions went to Doug Donovan and Mark Puente, Baltimore Sun, “A History Of Rough Edges: Freddie Gray Is Not The First To Come Out Of A Police Wagon With Serious Injuries,” and Meredith Cohn and Mark Puente, Baltimore Sun, “Intake Refusal Common: Central Booking Finds Hundreds Of Prisoners Arrive Sick Or Injured.”
Frank C. Porter Memorial Award for Labor and Business Reporting: William Welkowitz and Bryan Kneller, Bloomberg-BNA, “2014 Laws Limit Private Sector’s Use Of Criminal History Information.” Honorable Mention went to Meredith Cohn, Baltimore Sun, “Confused Consumers Face Higher Costs, But Shopping Around Might Not Be The Answer.”
Distinguished News Analysis: Amena Sayid, Bloomberg-BNA, “Jurisdiction Over Water Rules Divides Attorneys.” Honorable Mention went to Sara Hansard, Bloomberg-BNA, “ACA Risk Adjustment Hits Co-Ops, Small Plans Hard.”
Distinguished Non-Daily Specialized Technical Reporting: Tripp Baltz, Bloomberg-BNA Correspondents, “Banking Services Are In High Demand Among Colorado’s Marijuana Businesses.”
Distinguished Sports Reporting: Mike Klingaman, Baltimore Sun, “The Daffy Dozen,” a 12-part series on zany sports characters. Honorable Mention went to Scott Dance, Baltimore Sun, “Pimlico Crews Manage Dry Week; Stormy Forecast To Keep A Fast Track For Preakness.”
Distinguished Feature Story: David Montgomery, Washington Post, “The Mall And The Stories It Tells About An Ever-Changing America.” Honorable Mention went to Jonathan Pitts, Baltimore Sun, “Crusading For Justice: For 50 Years, Attorney Mike Milleman Has Been Driven To Be A Voice For The Dispossessed.”
Sports Photography: Kenneth Lam, Baltimore Sun, “Adam Jones Making A Diving Catch.”
Feature Photography: Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun, “Unsettled Journeys.” Honorable Mention went to Kenneth Lam, Baltimore Sun, “Four Photographs: Light And Composition.”
Local News Photography: Kim Hairston, Baltimore Sun, “Saturday March Protester Jumps,” which won the Photography Grand Prize. Honorable Mentions went to Kenneth Lam, Baltimore Sun, “Nose To Nose” and Algerina Perna, Baltimore Sun, for 12 photos from the Freddie Gray uprising.
National News Photography: Kenneth Lam, Baltimore Sun, “Police Use Smoke And Tear Gas At North And Pennsylvania Avenues.” Honorable Mention went to Kenneth Lam, Baltimore Sun, “Pensive President Obama Walking Towards His Helicopter.”
Web Graphics: Honorable Mention went to Ethan Miller and Hillary Woodward, Jobs With Justice, “Great Scott!”
Most Informative Blog, 250 Words Or More: William Welkowitz, Bloomberg-BNA, “Job Applicant Screening – Is Social Media Fair Game?” Honorable Mentions went to Ethan Miller, Jobs With Justice, “Do You Hear The People Sing? A Story Of Union-Busting, As Told By ‘Orange Is The New Black,’ ” and Scott Dance, Baltimore Sun, for a series of blogs on the weather and climate change.
WBNG GUILD SERVICE AWARDS
Dan De Souza Member of the Year: Amanda Erikson, Jenny Rodgers and Ann Tran, The Washington Post, “for doing the hard work and leading the charge in exposing the pay disparity at the Washington Post.”
Nadine Grinder Shop Steward of the Year: Dina Kastner and Bekki Ow-Arhus, National Association of Social Workers, “for improving severance benefits and leading a fight to make NASW conduct layoffs in accordance with the contract.”
Unit Officer of the Year: Laura Francis, Blomberg-BNA, “for leading the unit through one of the most difficult contract negotiations in the unit’s 70-year history.”
Organizer of the Year: Benjamin Soloway, Foreign Policy, “for leading the internal organizing committee and helping the bargaining unit win its NLRB election 16-1.”
Herb Block Community Service: Jeremy Sprinkle, NC State AFL-CIO “for his dedicated and hard work in the North Carolina community.”
Darlene Meyer Customer Service Award: Naazima Ali, Working America, “for going above and beyond to help anyone she encounters.”
Connie Knox Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement: Karen Coale, American Nurses Association staff unit.
Unit of the Year: Bloomberg BNA, “for successfully navigating through one of the most difficult contract negotiations in the unit’s history.”
The event will be held Wednesday, Sept. 28, at the Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild office, 1225 Eye St. NW, Suite 300. There is metered street parking nearby, as well as an after-hour parking garage: Park America, 1301 K St, NW. A reception will begin at 7 p.m., and will be followed by the awards ceremony.