Criminal-justice stories were among major award winners in an annual contest by the Associated Press Media Editors association, the Associated Press reports. A Seattle Times’ investigation of the state of Washington’s practice of steering people to methadone to reduce its Medicaid costs won a public service award. The newspaper’s three-part “Methadone and the Politics of Pain” exposed how more than 2,000 people in the state between 2003 and 2011 fatally overdosed on methadone, a cheap and unpredictable painkiller that was routinely prescribed for people in state-subsidized health care.
The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., was honored for its coverage of the Penn State sex-abuse scandal involving former football coach Jerry Sandusky. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Sarasota (Fl.) Herald-Tribune were the winners of the Gannett Foundation Award for Digital Innovation in Watchdog Journalism. The Journal Sentinel was honored for “Both Sides of the Law,” an investigation into the system that allows Milwaukee police officers to stay on the job despite violating laws and ordinances they were sworn to uphold. The Herald-Tribune won for its “Unfit for Duty” reports on Florida’s law enforcement officers, their personal and professional conduct, and the system that was not up to the task of monitoring them. The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press got a First Amendment award for its investigation of the sloppy handling of warrants by the Vermont judiciary, which revealed negligence at every level of the legal system.