9th Street Journal staff, from left to right, Nina Moske, Jacqueline Cole, and Gabrielle Lazor

9th Street Journal wins Frank Barrows Award

The North Carolina Open Government Coalition presented the 2024 Frank Barrows Award for Excellence in Student Journalism to the 9th Street Journal for its series examining obscure local boards and commissions in Durham.

Student journalists at the 9th Street Journal launched the project to find out what happens at the public meetings of public bodies that hardly ever get covered in major media outlets. What they found was inconsistency in adherence to open meetings laws and provisions of public information by government bodies that affect the daily lives of many Durhamites. The Journal’s reporters covered groups like the Safety and Wellness Task Force and the Durham County Dangerous Dog Appeal Board, or so-called “dog court.” Their series showed how many public bodies fly under the radar in ways that, if exploited, could do real harm to a community.

“It’s refreshing and humbling to see exceptional student journalists engaging in their communities through reporting,” said Brooks Fuller, director of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition. “The public service these newsrooms provide is profoundly important and I’m not sure we realize how critical this type of coverage is for communities that don’t have the deep dive local reporting they used to.”

The Barrows Award is given to a student journalist or newsroom from a North Carolina college or university whose work uses public records and open meetings law to tell a story of public significance. It is named for the late Frank Barrows, who was managing editor of the Charlotte Observer and founding board member of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition. The award was presented at the annual N.C. News and Information Summit held at North Carolina Central University on Sunshine Day. This is the second win for the 9th Street Journal.

In the image above, from left to right, are Nina Moske, Jacqueline Cole and Gabrielle Lazor.

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