Work by a Center for Public Integrity board member about a newspaper’s racist legacy in Philadelphia and by a Public Integrity contributor about the toxic impact of the tire industry in Akron, Ohio, is the winner and runner-up of the 2022 Vernon Jarrett Medal for Journalistic Excellence.
Wesley Lowery and Yanick Rice Lamb will be recognized by Morgan State University’s School of Global Journalism & Communication, which sponsors the award, in a ceremony at the National Press Club April 6.
The award is named for Vernon Jarrett, the late columnist for the Chicago Defender, Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, who was also a founding member and former president of the National Association of Black Journalists. It recognizes “a journalist who has published or broadcast stories that are of significant importance or had a significant impact on some aspect of Black life in America.”
Lowery, who joined Public Integrity’s board in 2021, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author and contributing editor at the Marshall Project. He will receive a $10,000 prize and a summer intern from Morgan State in recognition of his work on “Black City, White Paper,” an investigation into the Philadelphia Inquirer’s racial reckoning in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
Lamb, a journalism professor in the Cathy Hughes School of Communications, as well as a doctoral candidate at Howard University, will receive a $7,500 prize in recognition of her investigation last year for Public Integrity and Belt Magazine, “Unintended Consequences: The Rubber Industry’s Toxic Legacy in Akron.”
It was praised by judges as “an exemplary piece of research about deindustrialization and its impact on a marginalized community.”
“The storytelling is compelling and comprehensive, engaging the reader all along the investigative road as you discuss the continuing harm caused by the rubber tire factories by Black residents in your hometown,” they wrote.
“Like the judges, I was blown away by the power and detail of this year’s entries,” said Morgan State School of Global Journalism & Communications Dean Jackie Jones. “Wes and Yanick’s work not only meets the criteria for the Jarrett medal, but delivers on the promise that having Black people in the newsrooms of this country provides variety and perspective that not only serve under-covered communities, but expands the knowledge base for all of us.”
Previous Jarrett Medal winners are Dr. Kaye Whitehead, WEAA-FM public affairs host and Associate Professor at Loyola University (2021); Errin Haines, The 19th, and Adam Serwer, The Atlantic (2020); Audra D.S. Burch, The New York Times (2019); Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News columnist Helen Ubiñas (2018); Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News reporter Mensah Dean (2017); Kirsten West Savali, a writer, cultural critic and associate editor of The Root (2016); and Dr. Stacey Patton, then a reporter for The Chronicle of Higher Education (2015).
Founded in 1989, the Center for Public Integrity is one of the oldest nonprofit news organizations in the country and is dedicated to investigating systems and circumstances that contribute to inequality in the United States.
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