Argus Leader wins Nieman Foundation’s Taylor Family Award

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The Argus Leader in Sioux Falls has won the 2010 Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Newspapers with “Growing Up Indian,” an eight-part series that examines the daunting challenges faced by children on South Dakota’s Native American reservations. The Taylor Award is presented annually by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard.

Two finalists were also selected for the award: The Washington Post for “Paths to Jihad,” a five-part series on the pivotal choices made by young Muslims on four continents; and The Sacramento Bee for “Who Killed Amariana?” a three-part series that investigates the circumstances behind the death of a 4-year-old foster child in a mysterious arson fire.

“Growing Up Indian” tells the stories of three young women and a 3-year-old girl. The project was designed to raise public consciousness about what it is like to be a child on a reservation and show how that experience is both different and significantly more difficult than for many other children living in America today.

The series was produced by reporter Steve Young, photographer and multimedia producer Devin Wagner, managing editor Patrick Lalley, metro editor and project designer Jim Helland and multimedia manager Jim Cheesman.

Taylor Award judge Annmarie Timmins commented, “This series was a tightly focused collection of reporting, photographs and first-person essays. The paper gave voice to an underserved population in a most fair way. A lesser reporting effort might have blamed government policies or the Indian lifestyle for the problems of infant mortality and high school dropout rates. This series didn’t shy from either argument but chose instead to highlight the problems in human ways and begin a discussion of what might be done to remedy them. A newspaper doesn’t have a more important job.”

In making their selections, the Taylor Award judges identified stories that they believe met the highest standards of fairness in all aspects of the journalistic process: reporting, writing, editing, headlines, photographs, illustrations and presentation.

The Taylor Award ceremony will be held on March 10, 2011 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard in Cambridge, Mass. The Taylor honor includes a $10,000 prize for the winner and $1,000 each for the two finalists. The award program was established through gifts for an endowment by members of the Taylor family, who published The Boston Globe from 1872 to 1999. The purpose of the award is to encourage fairness in news coverage by America’s daily newspapers.