The inaugural competition for the Dan Rather Medals for News and Guts generated outstanding work from student and professional journalists across the country. The entries covered a range of topics – from city, county and federal organizations to school administration to for-profit companies. What they shared in common was a demonstrated commitment to reporting the tough stories of 2020 that needed to be told.
Madeleine Davison, a recent graduate of Syracuse University, is the collegiate winner for the story “Care and Capital.” Davison’s story explored nursing center violations among central New York for-profit facilities, and judges noted the “work and skill” were above and beyond student quality journalism. “Colorful, detailed interviews” pulled together “great use of data, information (and) information requests” into a well-crafted story. One judge noted, “The imagery in this piece cannot escape my mind.”
Tony Plohetski of the Austin American-Statesman/KVUE received the professional prize for his “Lights. Camera. Violence.” series. The panel of judges lauded Plohetski’s work on the three-story series, which investigated the death of a 40-year-old Black father while in the custody of county law enforcement, as a “great example of dogged reporting.” Through “extraordinary” reporting and writing, Plohetski created a “compelling, rich narrative that strikes just the right tone between sorrow and outrage.”