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The Desert Sun receives New America Award for 'Poisoned Cities, Deadly Border'


Matthew Kent, Program Coordinator, 317-920-4788, mkent@spj.org
Zoë Berg, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317-920-4785, zberg@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists is happy to recognize The Desert Sun with the USA Today Network as the recipient of the 2018 New America Award.

The New America Award honors journalism that sheds light on important issues of immigrant or ethnic communities in the United States.

The series “Poisoned Cities, Deadly Border” by Ian James and Zoë Meyers of The Desert Sun examines the toxic pollution that plagues cities on the U.S.-Mexico border and the effects on people’s health. The team at The Desert Sun, led by editor Greg Burton, collaborated with journalists at The Arizona Republic and USA TODAY in analyzing the data, editing the stories and designing the project. To reach a broader audience, the stories were published in English and Spanish.

“['Poisoned Cities, Deadly Border'] edged out the competition with deep data analysis and human stories about the impact of lax and inadequate environmental enforcement on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border, Calexico and Mexicali,” said the judges’ comments. “Citizens of both cities suffer with health problems that can be attributed to and are aggravated by unchecked air and water pollution. The reporting resulted in new oversight on the California side and promises of better enforcement and monitoring on the Mexican side. On the federal level, officials in Washington began new efforts aimed at cleaning up New River and secured a $5 million increase in funding for water infrastructure projects along the border, which could help prevent sewage spills. Strong impact from a strong report.”

The series can be found here.

The New America Award is celebrating 15 years of honoring work focused on immigrant or ethnic communities. This year’s recipients will be honored at the SPJ President’s Installation Banquet Sept. 7, during the Excellence in Journalism 2019 conference in San Antonio. Read more about the New America Award, including past recipients, here.

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