News Tribune's methadone series wins a Scripps Howard awardThe Duluth News Tribune has won a Scripps Howard award for a series on methadone that is credited with prompting calls for statewide reform in the treatment of drug addiction.
By: Christa Lawler, Duluth News Tribune
The Duluth News Tribune has won a Scripps Howard award for a series on methadone that is credited with prompting calls for statewide reform in the treatment of drug addiction.
“Methadone: A costly fix,” which ran in September 2012, captured the major national award in the category of Community Journalism.
The series author, Brandon Stahl, will be awarded $10,000 and a trophy by the E.W. Scripps Co. at a ceremony in May. Stahl, former investigations editor for the News Tribune, began a position as investigative reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune in January.
The Scripps Howard Awards were given in 15 categories to news organizations based in the United States. Entries were judged by 51 industry experts.
“It’s thrilling to win this, but even better that this type of journalism produced very positive results and might help people in the state,” Stahl said. “This is an accomplishment I will be lucky to repeat.”
Stahl worked on the six-story series for months, he said. The day before the final story ran, the state revoked the license of Duluth’s Lake Superior Treatment Center, a state-sanctioned methadone clinic.
“It was a lot of high-tailing and rewriting and getting a lot of information and research,” Stahl said. “I don’t think I’ve ever worked on a story quite like that where you saw a result — it was very immediate.”
News Tribune Editor Robin Washington said the News Tribune series resulted in the quickest response from authorities that he has seen in decades as an editor.
“Two major reasons for a vigorous press is to bring serious information to readers that they may not be aware of, and to effect change to keep those outrages from continuing,” he said. “Though Brandon has moved down the road, this story continues in the News Tribune as a serious matter of public safety the public needs to know.”
Bills that would have the state regulate methadone clinics more closely are working their way through the Minnesota House and Senate this session.
Judges noted Stahl’s research, extensive interviews and clear and concise writing and said:
“This problem would not have come to light if Stahl and the Duluth News Tribune hadn’t invested the time and resources to inform its community. It was first-rate all the way.”
Other winners included:
In announcing the award to the News Tribune staff, Washington said he believes the award is the highest in the newspaper’s history.
The News Tribune and Stahl also won first-place awards last year from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Association of Health Care Journalists and were finalists for a Scripps Howard award.