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Stillman receives SPJ New America Award for migrant-extortion industry report



Abbi Martzall, SPJ Awards Coordinator, 317-920-4791,
Maggie LaMar, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317-920-4785,

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Society of Professional Journalists is pleased to name Sarah Stillman as the recipient of its New America Award.

The award honors work that explores and exposes issues of importance to immigrant or ethnic communities living in the U.S.

In her winning piece, “WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN? For extortionists, undocumented migrants have become big business,” Stillman investigates the lucrative migrant-extortion industry in the United States' border region.

“Each of these entries is excellent in its own way, but from the opening sentence about a polite, deferential kidnapper to the closing sentence about a prophecy of suffering and survival, ‘Where are the Children’ fulfills the New America Award's recognition of public service on an issue of importance to minority communities,” said the judges in their comments. “The story startles with crisp images and insights. Stillman took great risks to accompany migrants along the dangerous 3,000-mile trail from Central America through Mexico to the United States. She earned the trust of a courageous family who challenged their sons' kidnappers. She used this reporting to illustrate the nuanced complexity of our country's "illegal immigration problem" and the specific danger faced by unaccompanied children. By focusing on the desperate families and sympathetic officials who face difficult choices daily, Stillman tells a gripping story that maintains suspense throughout. She leaves the reader wishing the children a better future and the country a better approach to immigration.”

The full article is available to read online.

The New America Award has been in existence for 11 years. This year’s recipients will be honored Sept. 20 at the SPJ President’s Installation Banquet during the 2016 Excellence in Journalism conference in New Orleans.

Complete details on the New America Award, including past recipients, are available here.

Thank you to this year's judges: Sonny Albarado, Mary Hudetz, Sonya Ross, Georgiana Vines, Amy Tardiff, Rebecca Aguilar, Sybril Brown and Rafael Mejia.

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