The National Center on Disability and Journalism at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication announced the winners of the 2019 Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability, the only journalism contest devoted exclusively to the coverage of people with disabilities and disability issues.

Journalists working in digital, print and broadcast media from around the world competed for awards and cash prizes totaling $17,000.

First place in the large media market category was awarded to Right to Fail, Living Apart, Coming Undone an in-depth investigation by ProPublica and PBS Frontline in collaboration with The New York Times.

Second place in the large media market category was awarded to Trapped: Abuse and neglect in private care entered by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

Third place in the large media market category was awarded to Unfit by Radiolab. Produced by Matt Kielty, Pat Walters and Lulu Miller, the episodes explore how people with disabilities were targeted for sterilization during the early 20th century as a form of eugenic genocide, but laws permitting forced sterilization have quietly stayed on the books.

Honorable mention in the large media market category was awarded to The parents said t was a special needs bed. The state said it was a cage by Mary Jo Pitzl of The Arizona Republic.

First place in the small media market category was awarded to You’re Not Alone, a collaborative documentary between the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Milwaukee PBS. The program followed the lives of four young people from Wisconsin as they navigated mental health challenges. The final product included a suicide prevention toolkit at

Second place in the small media market category was awarded to The Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina, for We dined with wheelchair users at 4 of Charleston’s top lunch spots. Here’s what they experienced.

Third place in the small media market category was awarded to Criminalizing disability by Ed Williams, a reporter for Searchlight New Mexico. Williams asked why so many of the state’s special education students ended up in police custody.

Honorable mention in the small media market category was awarded to Fighting for Personal Attendants at the Texas State Capitol by investigative reporter Edgar Walters of The Texas Tribune.

My remarks at the awards ceremony follow:

“It’s an exciting time for journalism with a disability angle. Next year we’ll celebrate thirty years of the Americans with Disabilities Act with its goals of equal access for the 19% of us who live with disabilities to government, business and employment. Have we achieved equal access?  As the stories we honor tonight point out, Not Yet!

Stories about abuse, neglect and discrimination are not pleasant to read, but they make us aware of the realities of life for many and can rouse us to do something about these troubling realities. As Martin Luther King said: “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”

Accurate journalism that goes beyond the latest cure for a disabling condition and beyond the narrative of a supercrip overcoming a disability can help  bend that arc toward justice. A story about the new disability emoji created this year or Target’s Braille Uno cards or Barbies with disabilities can make people realize disability is a part of life, not something to be hid but also not the whole story. Journalism can highlight that more people with disabilities are pictured in movies and on television; more people with disabilities are running for office and more companies and organizations see us as consumers.  That’s good journalism.

The work of the NCDJ like the style guide and these awards is important work. I’m happy to report that the committee that picks the award winners tells me that their work gets harder each year. This year they reviewed over a hundred pieces of journalism from all over the world. . .”