When I launched MLK50 nearly five years ago, I had some big dreams. But even my overly ambitious brain didn’t envision that in less than a year, a rookie reporter would produce an impressive body of work that would win a national journalism award.
But that’s just what Carrington J. Tatum did on the environmental justice beat – and that work was recognized by the Institute for Nonprofit News this week with the “Breaking Barriers” award for his coverage of how a community fought the controversial Byhalia Pipeline project, which developers abandoned in July.
Here’s how the judges summed up the entry: “At its best, nonprofit news advocates for its community, fighting abuses of power. MLK50 delivered on that highest calling in a big way — and has the impact to show for it.”
Behind every good reporter is a tireless, patient, committed editor – and Carrington’s editor on this work was Peggy McKenzie, MLK50’s managing editor. When city council and county commission meetings dragged on, when rallies started late and ran even later, when sources were reluctant, when stories got complicated, Peggy was there, coaching Carrington along the way.
Please join me in congratulating them both. Read Carrington’s coverage here.
We ask when you don’t get to: Next week, the Memphis Police Department’s new chief, Cerelyn ‘C.J.’ Davis, will hold a media availability. News outlets were asked to submit two questions, and while we are certainly capable of coming up with our own questions, there’s a better way: Ask readers what they want to know. When journalists get in (virtual) rooms with policymakers where the public isn’t invited, it’s our job to act with the public’s best interest in mind.
Among the suggestions from readers:
What do you want to be true about the citizens of Memphis and police relations?
If your job is to protect and serve in a city with a history of racial oppression, what is your role in protecting and serving those historically disadvantaged?
Why does the only answer to crime seem to be “more officers on the street”?
Stay tuned for whether our questions make MDP’s cut.