News-Democrat series on disabled adults wins National Headliner Award

News-DemocratApril 19, 2013 

The Belleville News-Democrat has won a National HeadlinerAward, one of the top awards in journalism, for its series on the lack of protection for disabled adults in Illinois.

The series, by reporters Beth Hundsdorfer and George Pawlaczyk, placed first in the category of news series in daily newspapers with circulation up to 75,000.

Called "Hidden Suffering, Hidden Death," the series of investigative stories published in 2012 reported that the deaths of severely disabled adults who live in their homes were not being investigated by the agency that was supposed to protect them, the Office of the Inspector General for the Illinois Department of Human Services. The agency failed to investigate for possible abuse or neglect because under department rules, the dead are "ineligible for services," the series reported.

Last week, the series won another national award for investigative reporting, a first place from Investigative Reporters & Editors.

This is the 79th year for the National Headliner Awards, which were founded by the Press Club of Atlantic City. The contest is one of the oldest and largest in the country and attracts entries from some of the largest newspapers and broadcasting outlets in the country.

Last year, the News-Democrat took second and third places in the news series category for investigative series by Pawlaczyk and Hundsdorfer and Kevin Bersett and Jacqueline Lee. Pawlaczyk and Hundsdorfer also won the National Headliner Grand Award, the top award for all print entries, in 2009.

The McClatchy Co. is the parent company of the News-Democrat. Two other McClatchy newspapers won National Headliner Awards.

The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., won first place for education reporting for "UNC Academic Fraud," and the Observer in Charlotte, N.C., won a second-place award for investigative reporting with "Prognosis: Profits."

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