North Country Public Radio garners several prestigious journalism awards
Monday, April 28, 2014 - 3:02 pm

CANTON -- North Country Public Radio has been honored with six journalism awards during the latest round of recognition for journalists.

NCPR received two National Sigma Delta Chi Awards for Excellence in Journalism from the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and four Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards from The Radio and Television Digital News Association (RTDNA).

NCPR’s news and digital team received a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence in Journalism.

Brian Mann and David Sommerstein were honored for their work on Rail Freight Danger – Lac-Megantic to New York, receiving an Excellence in Journalism award for Public Service in Radio from the SPJ and a Regional Edward R. Murrow award for Continuing Coverage.

NCPR's reporting on the Lac-Megantic, Quebec train disaster began in July 2013, on NPR, with the first stories of the explosion. In October, NCPR was the first to report that the train cars which failed there are the same make and model as the oil tanker cars that routinely roll through communities across the country.

NCPR’s coverage sparked immediate action from our political representatives: Congressman Bill Owens contacted the National Transportation Safety Board immediately after David Sommerstein interviewed him for the story we aired on October 18. The NTSB response led to contacts with leaders in Canton and Potsdam, and eventually, to Owens co-sponsoring legislation calling for an investigation into train safety, as reported on NCPR in January 2014.

Natasha Haverty was honored with an Excellence in Journalism award for Investigative Reporting in Radio from the SPJ, and a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Investigative Reporting for Birth to Death Behind Bars.

Natasha’s stories examined the tough, unprecedented questions faced in prisons in New York, and throughout the country, as thousands live out their lives behind bars. She visited Bedford Hills, New York’s only maximum security prison for women and the site of the only remaining prison nursery, speaking to mothers inside the nursery and the official in charge of determining which mothers and babies are allowed to live there. She also visited Coxsackie, one of New York's maximum security facilities for men, and met a man on his death bed, the sister trying to get him home, prison officials whose job it is to make the call on when compassionate release is granted and a medical expert on medical parole.

Brian Mann’s feature "How the Rockefeller Drug Laws Changed America" won a Regional Murrow award for Best Feature.

Brian and Natasha’s stories aired as part of a larger series that NCPR produced over the past year, called the Prison Time Media Project. The series was launched during the 40th anniversary of the 1973 Rockefeller drug laws. The project examined the ways the laws changed America and the North Country, from their impact on race relations to the massive network of state and Federal prisons that drive the economy in our rural region of northern New York.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the team here,” said NCPR News Director Martha Foley. “Brian and David’s reporting linking the Lac-Megantic derailment disaster to the oil tanker trains running through the North Country spread that story across the country. Now Congress is calling for tighter rules on those outdated train cars, and emergency response plans are being rewritten, from Washington DC, to Albany, to our local towns and counties. And Tasha’s investigative story, edited by Brian for our Prison Time Media Project, was a truly touching, humane, yet tough and uncompromising look at people’s lives behind bars. NCPR News has built a deep bench of talented reporters and we continue to tell the untold stories that matter to our region.”