The Associated Press Media Editors awarded the Lawrence Journal-World two honorable mentions in this year’s APME Journalism Excellence contest.
The Journal-World won for a series called “Unraveling a Rape Case,” in which reporter Shaun Hittle told the story of Joe Jones, the first Kansan to be exonerated of a crime through DNA evidence. After 20 years, Jones had run through the settlement awarded to him for his wrongful imprisonment and still had no closure, as the crime that sent him to jail was never solved.
Hittle’s reporting, accentuated by photographs and video from Kevin Anderson and Nick Krug, found the existence of untested DNA evidence in California. The Topeka police department reopened the case, tested the DNA and matched it to Joel Russell, a Topeka man who was a suspect in the 1985 case. Russell was charged in April.
The series won honorable mention in the Public Service and Digital Storytelling and Reporting awards in the under 40,000 circulation category. In Public Service, the winners in the over 100,000 circulation category were the New York Times and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In the 40,000-150,000 circulation category, the winners were the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and the Asbury Park Press. The Sioux Fall Argus Leader also won in the under 40,000 category.
In the Digital Storytelling category, the winner for over 150,000 was the Wall Street Journal. The Fort Myers News-Press won for 40,000-150,000.
Full disclosure: the Journal-World is my employer.