Somebody, the podcast that explored the racial disparities and turbulent relationship between law enforcement and Chicago residents, has won the top prize for Excellence in Radio/Podcast Coverage in the 2020 Scripps Howard Awards. The seven-episode documentary podcast searched for answers as to how 20-year-old Courtney Copeland ended up outside a Chicago police station with a fatal gunshot wound to his back. It was a co-production of Topic Studios, The Intercept, the Invisible Institute and iHeartRadio in association with Tenderfoot TV.
"'Somebody is an innovative collaboration, and the decision to let Shapearl Wells, Copeland's mother, tell her own story was courageous and unique among the entries we received,” said the judges in selecting their winner.
Wells accepted the award on behalf of the team during Wednesday night’s awards presentation. “Our podcast is about race, trust and the police, and it’s my personal story about my own son’s murder,” she said. “Chicago has one of the worst murder-solve rates in the country and it’s even lower if you’re Black. This is why this type of journalism is needed.”
Somebody beat out the two other finalists selected by the judges: On China’s New Silk Road by the Global Reporting Centre and Where It Hurts: No Mercy from Kaiser Health News and St. Louis Public Radio.
NPR Wins First Amendment Award
The Scripps Howard Awards also honored NPR with its Distinguished Service to the First Amendment for its series “Civil War at the Voice of America.” The investigative reports by media reporter David Folkenflik uncovered the extent to which Trump appointee Michael Pack and the Trump administration were willing to politicize an institution created to be an independent champion of free speech and a beacon of American pluralism to the rest of the world.
The judges said of the series, “David Folkenflik's amazing reporting on the Trump administration's efforts to obliterate Voice of America falls squarely into the First Amendment aspirations of this award category.”
The Scripps Howard Foundation honors the best in American journalism from the previous year. A panel of veteran journalists and media industry leaders selected the final list of winners in this year's competition from nearly 900 entries from podcasting, radio, and other media.
"The historic events of 2020 shined a light on the importance of a free and independent press to American democracy," said Liz Carter, president and CEO of the Scripps Howard Foundation. "The journalism we honor with this year's Scripps Howard Awards broke down complicated issues through top-notch reporting and exceptional storytelling, providing the clarity we needed to better understand the world around us."
During a virtual awards show livestream on Facebook and YouTube (podcast awards at about the one-hour mark in the show), the Scripps Howard Foundation presented $160,000 in prize money to the winning organizations and journalists. The awards show will be rebroadcast May 8-9 on Newsy and on Scripps television stations throughout the summer.