Telegraph among 4 finalists for investigative journalism award

© 2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Chester Telegraph is one of four finalists for a national journalism award in the Investigative Journalism category for its series on Vermont Open Meeting Law violations within the Two Rivers Supervisory Union.

The contest is sponsored by Local Independent Online Publishers, a professional organization of about 300 mostly digital news outlets based in Chicago that supports efforts to keep local journalism vibrant in communities large and small. Judges for the contest include journalists and academics from a number of organizations including USC Annenberg, Neiman Lab, Poynter Institute, Knight Fellowships, The Charlotte News and Observer and The New York Times.

Besides Investigative Journalism, LION named 45 publishers as finalists for its inaugural awards across 15 categories, including Business Idea of the Year, Technology Innovation of the Year, and Best Solutions Journalism Project of the Year. Most categories are divided into three sections decided by the number of Page Views Per Month. Winners will be named in late October.

Telegraph Publisher Cynthia Prairie says of the Open Meeting articles:  “Vermont has quite a number of news deserts, which allow governments entities, a number inadvertently, to violate the state Open Meeting Law. The Telegraph, for the past eight years, has taken on these issues on behalf of our communities. This particular series highlighted the latest and most egregious violations we found. And the good news is, that the boards by and large are remedying those violations.”

Those articles included:

Prairie said that the violations only came to light because reporter Shawn Cunningham asked one simple but incisive question before one board went into executive session, and that was if the individual members actually knew why they were entering into executive session.

“The board members did not, therefore by law they could not actually agree that they needed to go into executive session,” Prairie said. “It was a question brilliant in its simplicity. But knowing what question to ask is what journalism is about.”

The other finalists are:

  • The Highlands Current, based in the Hudson Valley, New York, for The Extremist Next Door  on a white supremacist who was hiding in plain sight.
  • The Tennessee-based Nolensville Home Page for Challenges at Volunteer Fire Department, about a department that struggles to keep up with its growing community.
  • The Racine County Eye of Wisconsin for its Eye on Employment, which looked at barriers to employment.

Prairie added that even if The Telegraph does not “take home ‘the gold,’ ” it has “certainly made its mark as an important, vital part of our communities. That, to me, is the most important.”

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  1. Ralph Pace says:

    Keep up the excellent coverage on this topic – congrats on being a finalist!

  2. Linda Diak says:

    Congratulations!

  3. Stephanie Smith says:

    A job well done, congratulations! Thank you for your hard work and honest journalism. Chester is lucky to have you!

  4. Jennifer Harper says:

    Congratulations!!!

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