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Tribune truancy series wins national award

John F. KennedyHarvard UniversityChicago Public Schools

A couple of weeks ago, investigative reporter David Jackson wrote on Trib Nation about his work with colleague Gary Marx, Alex Richard and photographer Scott Strazzante about truancy in Chicago. Their series just won an award. 

The Education Writers of America Association gave a top award to David, Gary, Alex and Scott for their series on truancy in Chicago schools. 

In their announcement, the EWA noted that the "winners stood out for many reasons. Some yielded immediate impact, such as resignations of top officials, while others laid bare misconduct, including misuse of public funds. A considerable number of winning entries stemmed from collaborations among diverse outlets that pooled their talents in print, video and audio storytelling to produce compelling, multidimensional coverage. Some entries were noteworthy because of their creative use of data." 

An Empty Desk Epidemic won the investigative prize in the large newspaper category. The truancy series revealed that about 32,000 Chicago Public Schools elementary students -- about 1 out of every 8 -- missed at least a month of classes over a year’s time while thousands of others simply were unaccounted for. Their reporting showed how absenteeism is robbing children, especially African-Americans and children with disabilities, of educational opportunities and a chance for a better life. 

The series analyzed attendance records and other data in producing a compelling portrait of a school system in crisis and offering insights about how others are dealing with the truancy problem.

Last week, the Tribune's investigation into toxic flame retardants won a national award from the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, part of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. 

-- Trib Nation

 

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