The Marysville Journal-Tribune has been honored by the Associated Press of Ohio for producing the top example of public service journalism for its series titled Stella’s Cloud.
Earlier this week, the Associated Press of Ohio announced the Journal-Tribune was won first place, among newspapers its size, for its coverage of the suicide epidemic in Union County. The newspaper was also honored in the breaking news category.
“Honestly, this is the reason I got into journalism — to be a public servant and to make a difference,” reporter Mac Cordell said. “I can’t think of an AP award I would rather win.”
Stella’s Cloud was a yearlong series of stories detailing the county’s surging suicide rate. It looked at the issue from a variety of angles and sources including mental health professionals, friends and families left behind, school officials, law enforcement officials and others.
Each story in the series was accompanied by a sketch created by Stella Abel whose suicide in 2018 moved the newspaper to cover the issue. The sketch showed a dark, cloudy figure filled with hurtful words towering over a girl, while a much smaller figure filled with positive words reached for her from the side.
“This series would not have been possible without the help of so many people, who were willing to share the pain of their stories to help make the community aware of the problem and more than that, to look for solutions,” managing editor Chad Williamson said.
Cordell took third place for breaking news reporting for his coverage of last year’s trench collapse in Marysville.
Cordell responded to the scene of the fatal accident at a construction project on the Memorial Hospital grounds and gathered information. What set Cordell’s reporting apart from other area media reports was that he quickly began to ask questions about why a safety device, visible in photos from the scene, was not used to prevent the tragedy.
Fifty-six daily newspapers submitted 1,630 entries in the contest, which featured news and sports stories, features, editorials, columns, graphics and photos from 2019.
Entries were judged by editors from Michigan newspapers.
The awards were to be announced at the Ohio APME annual awards banquet May 9 in Columbus, however the event was canceled out of precaution over the coronavirus outbreak.
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