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Nevada Public Radio, The Markup and Gizmodo, Al Jazeera English win New America Award


Lou Harry, SPJ Manager of Publications and Awards, 317-920-4786, lharry@spj.org
Michelle Lagos, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317-927-8000, mlagos@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists is honored to announce the recipients of its New America Awards. This year, SPJ has introduced winners for audio, print/online and television categories — as well as an overall excellence award.

This year’s New America division winners are:
• Audio winner – Nevada Public Radio for “A year and counting of COVID in Las Vegas: The overworked”
• Print/online winner – The Markup and Gizmodo for “Predication: Bias”
• Television winner – Al Jazeera English for “Buried truths: America’s Indigenous boarding schools”

The overall excellence award winner is The Markup and Gizmodo for “Predication: Bias”.

“A year and counting of COVID in Las Vegas: The overworked” by Nevada Public Radio is the first in a three-part series about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on Southern Nevada's Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. This series documented the death rates of nurses in the early stages of COVID-19 and found that while Filipino nurses made up 4% of nurses nationwide, they accounted for 33% of nurse deaths.

“Buried truths: America’s Indigenous boarding schools” by Al Jazeera English reports on the century-long U.S. policy to remove Indigenous children from their culture. In the government’s attempt to isolate and eliminate Indigenous societies, Indigenous children were stripped of their culture and prevented from speaking their languages in boarding schools, which allegedly abused many children.

“Predication: Bias” by The Markup and Gizmodo started over a decade ago as a project to find whether and why police treat people of color differently. While working at Gizmodo, Dhruv Mehrotra, an enterprising data journalist, built a search engine to explore police records for law enforcement agencies across the U.S. and found a page on the Los Angeles Police Department's public website that linked to the algorithm, PredPol.

The news staff found that PredPol was instructing law enforcement agencies across the country to patrol Black, Latino and low-income neighborhoods more than rich and white areas. The software developers of PredPol knew the software was biased, as a study in 2018 by PredPol's co-founders said the software would disproportionately impact communities of color.

The team dogged more than 40 law enforcement agencies by telephone and email, sent more than 140 public records requests and called hundreds of arrestees and spoke to defense attorneys and prosecutors to find more about the software, who was using it and who knew.

"The level of data-driven investigative reporting is applauded for this project. Not only did this nimble newsroom find a pattern, they dove in using their own custom tools to dig more and develop correlations on policing and the bias that exists across too many sectors of society,” said the New America Award judges. “This was a large-scale and complex data investigation that spanned multiple agencies and millions of data points."

The New America Award celebrates work focused on immigrant or ethnic communities. This year's recipients will be honored during the President's Installation Banquet at MediaFest22 in Washington, D.C., Oct. 29. Read more about the New America Award, including past recipients.

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