An investigative team from the Minneapolis Star Tribune has won the 2017 Al Nakkula Award For Police Reporting, awarded by the Denver Press Club and the University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Media, Communication and Information.
Reporters Jennifer Bjorhus and Kelly Smith will accept the award on behalf of the team at the Club’s 23rd Annual Damon Runyon Award dinner this Friday, March 31, at the Denver Athletic Club.
The team won for its multimedia series, “A Cry for Help” published June 1, 2016. Their work wove together three personal stories to create a narrative of police shootings involving citizens in the midst of mental health crises. In-depth interviews with an officer, the survivor of a police shooting and the mother of a man who was shot by an officer gave context and depth to an issue that is often reduced to statistics. Supporting the three narratives, the reporters added an interactive database that includes everyone in Minnesota who died after a physical confrontation with law enforcement since January 2000.
Also contributing to “A Cry for Help” were Star Tribune photographer and videographer Richard Tsong-Taatarii, data editor Mary Jo Webster and interactive data journalist Jeff Hargarten.
Judges selected two runners-up for this year’s award: Ryan Gabrielson and Topher Sanders, whose story “Busted” was published on July 7, 2016 by ProPublica, and Glenn Smith and Andrew Knapp, whose story “Watched” was published on Sept. 13, 2016, by The Post and Courier.
This year’s judges were Denver attorney and former journalist Al Youngs, and University of Colorado Boulder journalism professors Jeff Browne and Paul Voakes.
“The Nak” is named after the late Al Nakkula, a legendary police reporter who worked for 46 years at the Rocky Mountain News in Denver.
We are honored to be able to help bring the “A Cry for Help” team recognition for their insightful work at the Runyon Awards this year. For those new to the Club, the Runyon is one of the cornerstones of our mission-driven work. The event allows us to have a direct part in both encouraging the efforts of journalists in the field through awards and in helping to build a bridge for great new talent through our scholarships to young journalists. Likewise, this event serves to strengthen the Club’s ability to maintain its venue as a voice and educational space for journalists to improve their craft.
The Denver Press Club’s board of directors has voted to move the format of the 26th annual Damon Runyon Award Banquet to a virtual experience, broadcast 6-8 p.m., on Saturday, Sept. 12, live from the Denver Press Club.