Providence Journal Cited for Report on ‘Rape in a Small Town’


The Providence Journal won this year’s $10,000 Dart Award for Excellence in Reporting on Victims of Violence for a study of the effects of a rape of a teenager on a small Rhode Island community.

The story, “Rape in a Small Town,” published June 8, 2003, was written by Kate Bramson, edited by Mimi Burkhardt, and photographed by Bob Thayer.

News coverage of a high-profile rape often ends with a courtroom verdict. But for Kate Bramson, that’s when the reporting began, according to the Dart Center for Journalism at Trauma, which made the award. After watching a teenage boy led away in handcuffs, Journal executive editor Joel P. Rawson writes, “Bramson left the court that day knowing there was a bigger story to be told.”

The story details a year and a half in the life of Laura, a girl who was raped by a popular classmate during her sophomore year at Burrillville High School. Bramson’s report shows the lingering effects of rape in a small community.

The Dart Center, based at the University of Washington, develops educational resources for use in journalism schools and news organizations, provides training and conducts research about the coverage of violence.

Dart Award judges awarded an honorable mention to reporter Carol Smith and photographer Renee Byer of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for a portrayal of a man left to care for his infant son after his wife committed suicide while suffering severe post-partum depression.

Three finalists were also named:

–The Baltimore Sun for “Undeniable Proof,” the story of a woman who was raped at age 18 and her 19-year struggle for justice. The story was written by Allison Klein and photographed by Amy Davis.

–The Daytona Beach News-Journal for “Donna’s Story,” which chronicled the process of recovery for six children who lost their mother to murder. The story was produced by staff writer Derek Catron and team members Kelly Markowitz, Denise O’Toole, Craig Litten and Virginia Smith.

–The Denver Post for “Betrayal in the Ranks.” Written by Miles Moffeit and Amy Herdy, the series reported on individual survivors of rape and domestic violence in the military.


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