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Medill Justice Project wins IRE Award

The Medill Justice Project won a national Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE) Award for “Spotlight on Shaken-Baby Syndrome,” the project’s years-long examination of multiple shaken-baby syndrome cases.

Led by Alec Klein, professor and director of the Medill Justice Project, the investigation comprised in-depth articles, the creation of a national database and a documentary. The Medill Justice Project identified and confirmed more than 3,000 cases of shaken-baby syndrome in the United States to create the database.

“There was revelatory information uncovered that has impacted criminal justice proceedings,” Klein said. He said he is proud of the efforts of his students and he believes this win is indicative of the range of work done by Medill students.

Lauryn Schroeder, graduate journalism student and a fellow of the project, is excited about this win.

“I don't think it's really sunk in yet,” she said. “The most amazing part about receiving this award is knowing that all of our hard work has paid off.  The work we do has the potential to impact lives. When you're just starting out in journalism, that's not something you come across that often.”

The IRE award is the third national award won by the Medill Justice Project in the past two years, in addition to several others from local organizations. The project is also currently a finalist for three Lisagor awards and four Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence awards.

For the Lisagor Awards, a competition run by the Chicago Headline Club and open to journalists in the Chicagoland area, the Medill Justice Project is a finalist in three categories: Best Non-Deadline Reporting Online, Best Investigative/Public Service Reporting Online and Best Use of News Video Online. Klein said he is thrilled that Medill students are rivaling and competing with professionals the area. In 2013, the project won the Lisagor Award for Best Feature Story Online.

The Medill Justice Project, founded at Northwestern University in 1999, is an investigative journalism enterprise that examines potentially wrongful convictions, probes national systemic criminal-justice issues and conducts groundbreaking research. Working as journalists, students in the Medill Justice Project advocate only for the truth.

The IRE awards, given by Investigative Reporters & Editors Inc. since 1979, recognize the most outstanding watchdog journalism of the year. The contest covers 16 categories across media platforms and a range of market sizes.