An investigative reporting team from the Minneapolis Star Tribune has won the annual Al Nakkula award for police reporting for their multimedia series “A Cry for Help,” published last June 1. Reporters Jennifer Bjorhus and Kelly Smith accepted the award last Friday in Denver. The University of Colorado, which administers the award with the Denver Press Club, said the newspaper “wove together three personal stories to paint a narrative of police shootings involving citizens in the midst of mental health crises. In-depth interviews with an officer, the survivor of a police shooting and the mother of a man who was shot by an officer give context and depth to an issue that is often reduced to statistics.”
The judges cited the reporting team’s combined efforts in investigative reporting, gripping storytelling, data journalism and multimedia production. There were two runners-up for the award: Ryan Gabrielson and Topher Sanders of ProPublica, whose story “Busted” was published on July 7, 2016 (and who also won a criminal justice reporting award from John Jay College’s Center on Media, Crime and Justice this year), and Glenn Smith and Andrew Knapp of the Charleston, S.C., Post and Courier, whose story “Watched” was published on September 13, 2016. The late Al Nakkula was a police reporter who worked for 46 years at the Rocky Mountain News in Denver.