Berkeleyside wins SPJ journalism award for comprehensive homelessness coverage

Homeless person sleeps on Berkeley street. Photo: Ted Friedman
A person without a home sleeps on a Berkeley street. Photo: Ted Friedman

Earlier this year, Berkeleyside joined more than 80 other media organizations in the Bay Area to publish a day of stories focused on homelessness in our midst.

Monday, that coverage was recognized by the NorCal chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists as part of its 31st Annual Excellence in Journalism Awards.

Berkeleyside’s Frances Dinkelspiel and Emilie Raguso won in the explanatory journalism category, in the small division for print media outlets, “for their comprehensive coverage of homelessness in Berkeley using data and effective storytelling to identify problems, seek answers and analyze proposed solutions.”

Dinkelspiel and Raguso created eight in-depth stories that ran sequentially June 29 over a period of about seven hours as part of the San Francisco Homeless Project.


The SF Homeless Project to which Berkeleyside contributed also took home the contest’s Public Service Award: “Participating media organizations collaborated to publish and broadcast during one week in June more than 300 stories about various aspects of homelessness and efforts to address them. The SF Homeless Project is a sign of a new era in journalism in which news outlets join their forces to fight for a better society,” wrote the judges. A follow-up day of coverage is being planned for December.

Homeless camp at the Gilman underpass, June 23, 2016, Jacob. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Jacog at the homeless camp at the Gilman underpass, June 23, 2016. Photo: Emilie Raguso

See the full list of awardees for this year’s NorCal SPJ Excellence in Journalism awards. They will be recognized at a banquet in November.

Berkeleyside has also been recognized by SPJ NorCal, in 2013 and 2014, for excellence in community journalism.

About the winning stories

SF Homeless Project logoBerkeley has seen its homeless population skyrocket in recent years, leading to deep concern in the community, as well as a deep divide, about how to respond.

Berkeleyside first sought feedback from readers to help shape our coverage so we could begin to answer the most pressing questions from the community. Our survey garnered more than 130 responses. That survey will continue to help guide our thinking.

Next, we hit the streets and spoke with unsheltered individuals, advocates, city staff and service providers. We combed through archives to provide historical context. We sought out the latest data and the most recent reports, which we later posted online with our package so readers would have easy access to the best available resources.

Among other topics, we explored one of the most visible homeless encampments in Berkeley; described the city’s attempt to address this intractable issue by focusing on those it deems most in need; provided an overview of the history of homelessness in Berkeley; and created a photo essay, with the help of several community contributors — including freelance photographers Ted Friedman and David Yee — that sought to humanize for readers the people who find themselves living on Berkeley’s streets.

Here are many of those stories:

Read more from our ongoing Berkeley Homeless Project.

Related:
Berkeleyside recognized for journalism excellence for the second year running (11.13.14)
Berkeleyside wins excellence in journalism award (10.29.13)

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