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Alia won top honors for beat reporting among small newsrooms, with reporters from MinnPost and StateImpact Ohio from NPR coming in second and third respectively.
The judges’ comments on Alia’s reporting are as follows:
“Alia Wong demonstrates a dexterous ability to get beyond the surface of education stories, and in this collection gives readers a sample of her ability to report with fairness and respect the differing voices she includes. The Pidgin story, especially, delivers nuance and food for thought on an issue that so often produces only knee-jerk reactions. The piece on consultants and millions in education reform contracts and the piece on conditions in the state’s largest high school are examples of watchdog journalism that must be encouraged at every turn.”
“Alia Wong works to hold state and schools officials accountable for their actions, a key focus of journalism today. From how schools treat concussions in their athletes to whether the state should be funding private schools or spending millions to promote itself, Alia presents the facts in an easy-to-read style. She’s skilled at putting things into context and answering that key question: Why should I care? Entry demonstrates good breadth of reporting.”
Alia and Civil Beat photographer PF Bentley also tied for second place in Single-Topic News or Feature among small newsrooms, with last year’s “Learning Hilo” series, a week-long examination of charter schools in Hilo.
Here are the judges’ comments on “Learning Hilo”:
“With beautifully written prose, Alia Wong captures what life is like in Hilo schools serving some of Hawaii’s poorest children. Her series provides vivid detail of the innovations being used in each of the schools profiled and helps the reader understand why the measures of success at these schools might be different than elsewhere. The series provides good look at how charter schools can be effective when traditional ones fail.”
“Alia Wong has produced an exquisite portrait of four charter schools in the Hilo area of Hawaii. Each portion of this series rewarded readers with gems of detail – used to good effect to highlight a larger concept. Wong’s ability to weave diverse elements and approaches to education into this guided tour of truly remarkable schools left this reader wishing the series had even more chapters. Except for a few endings that seemed a bit contrived, these pieces were compelling and insightful.”