Editor's Notes

Spotlight PA wins 10 statewide journalism awards, including top honors for its redistricting coverage

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Spotlight PA received 10 statewide journalism awards for its coverage in 2021.
Spotlight PA received 10 statewide journalism awards for its coverage in 2021.
Spotlight PA

Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and WITF Public Media. Sign up for our free newsletters.

HARRISBURG — Spotlight PA’s unprecedented commitment to coverage of redistricting in Pennsylvania during the past year has earned two of the most prestigious statewide prizes in journalism, among other awards.

In total, Spotlight PA — in competition with all other news organizations in the state — won three of the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association’s top prizes.

The redistricting coverage won the Public Service Award, given to a single newsroom in Pennsylvania each year that has made a significant contribution to the betterment of its community through public service leadership. This is the second straight year Spotlight PA has been recognized with this award.

Additionally, Spotlight PA’s lead redistricting reporter, Kate Huangpu, was honored with The Lenfest Institute Emerging Journalist Award, given to one young reporter in the state each year in recognition of their talent and promise.

And Spotlight PA’s interactive map comparison tool — which allowed readers to search their address to see how their political districts would change under the newly drawn maps — received first place in the Best Web Use category from the state chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Spotlight PA was the only newsroom in Pennsylvania and one of the only in the country to dedicate a reporter for an entire year to redistricting. The initiative focused on the immense importance the process plays in determining political power and representation for years to come.

In other categories, Spotlight PA was awarded the statewide Freedom of Information Award from the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association (PNA) for its collaborative investigative reporting with The Philadelphia Inquirer on the troubles facing the Public School Employees’ Retirement System.

One of several illustrations by Spotlight PA freelancer Leise Hook, who took second place for graphic/photo illustration in Pennsylvania's annual statewide journalism awards.
Leise Hook / For Spotlight PA
One of several illustrations by Spotlight PA freelancer Leise Hook, who took second place for graphic/photo illustration in Pennsylvania's annual statewide journalism awards.

Other projects honored include:

  • “Fundamental Flaws,” a collaborative investigation into Pennsylvania’s poor oversight of addiction treatment facilities by Spotlight PA’s Ed Mahon and KHN’s Aneri Pattani, was awarded second place in PNA’s investigative reporting category.

  • “The Hidden Tab,” a collaborative, year-long investigation by Spotlight PA’s Angela Couloumbis and The Caucus into how lawmakers spend millions of tax dollars on themselves, earned second place in SPJ’s Spotlight Award for daily publications.

  • “Locked Out,” ongoing eviction coverage stemming from the pandemic by Spotlight PA’s Charlotte Keith, was awarded second place in PNA’s news beat reporting category.

  • A collection of illustrations by Spotlight PA freelancer Leise Hook earned second place in PNA’s graphic/photo illustration category.

  • “The Final Moments,” a collaborative investigation by Spotlight PA’s Gary Harki and NBC News revealing the final seconds before Christian Hall was shot and killed by State Police, earned an honorable mention in PNA’s enterprise reporting category.

  • “Crisis of Care,” a collaborative analysis by Spotlight PA’s Colin Deppen and PublicSource of Pennsylvania’s poor preparation for a coming swell in demand for dementia care, earned an honorable mention in PNA’s news feature story category.

Earlier this year, Spotlight PA received the prestigious national Freedom of Information Award from Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) for its collaborative work with The Caucus on lawmaker spending.

Additionally, the newsroom’s work with the Inquirer and ProPublica on oversight and operations at the Milton Hershey School took first place in the education reporting category of the National Headliner Awards.

Spotlight PA, the largest statewide news organization in Pennsylvania, produces accountability journalism about the state government and urgent statewide issues for 82 newsroom partners across Pennsylvania.

We provide all of our journalism at no cost, ensuring people in all corners of the state have access to the information they need to hold their elected officials to account and make informed decisions at the polls.

Spotlight PA’s public-service reporting relies on the support of our readers, with every dollar going straight back into our vital journalism. Join us in celebrating these awards by making a tax-deductible donation today.

Christopher Baxter is the executive director and editor in chief of Spotlight PA. Spotlight PA is funded by foundations and readers like you who are committed to accountability journalism that gets results.

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