The Charlotte Observer (NC)
"Taking Back our Neighborhoods"
A 19-month in-depth series on crime in nine city neighborhoods, in which the newspaper took an activist role by asking residents in the crime-ridden neighborhoods to report on the root causes of crime and to participate in the search for solutions.
"We spent two years in some of the worst crime-infested neighborhoods in Charlotte," said Gary Wright, reporter for The Charlotte Observer. "I think we were all touched in different ways by what we saw and experienced.
"We tried to write stories that would show our readers what it was like to live in these neighborhoods where children went hungry, criminals preyed on the helpless, and violence became a part of everyday life. I think we learned a lot, both about the people we wrote about and about ourselves."
The Argus Leader (Sioux Falls, SD)
"A Community on the Rise"
A year-long saga of citizens' efforts to rebuild the town of Tyndall -- setting an example of what a small daily can do in inspiring a rural community in pursuit of a common cause. The newspaper had twin goals: to counter the despair that many people have of their Government and to help many rural South Dakota towns that are suffering hard times.
"We decided at the end to create a program call the Tyndall Ambassadors in which people from Tyndall, this little town, would go to other rural towns and talk about what worked and what didn't work," said Peter Ellis, managing editor for The Argus Leader. "... they've gone around and now we know that 12 towns in South Dakota are emulating this process."
The Kansas City Star
"Raising Kansas City"
A bold, year-long journalism project built around the exploration of core values that drive society and how those values have been distorted in modern times. This effort had 50 reporters and editors writing, discussing and examining 12 basic values, delivering compelling accounts of children's struggles and triumphs in an untraditional manner.
"...We did something unconventional," said Arthur S. Brisbane, editor for The Kansas City Star. "We found as we got into it and as we designed it that we began to enjoy the unconventionality of it. We began to explore, where are the lines, where are the boundaries that we should be watchful of. And we spent a great deal of time trying to find them... we're learning, and I think that's a tremendous value.
"...The people of our community were really the inspiration for this. The idea of doing a project around kids, and ultimately kids' values was not an idea we invented... We tried to build on it. We're going to continue to build on it."