By Jude Habib, Director, Sounddelivery
With my background in broadcasting and having worked with the team Expert Citizens for many years I was thrilled to be asked to oversee a new addition to the INSIGHT awards in 2019; the Insight Through Journalism Award.
Expert Citizens is a Stoke-based Community Interest Company led by and for people with lived experience of homelessness, mental ill- health, addiction, domestic abuse, acute poverty or histories of offending behavior (often when brought together described as multiple disadvantages). Every year Expert Citizens brings together people working in this arena to celebrate examples of positive and outstanding practice.
This year the Insight Through Journalism Award was launched to recognise and celebrate the best representation of the interlocking nature of multiple disadvantage across TV, radio, print and online. People were invited to nominate journalists or journalists could nominate their own work.
We had a strong panel of judges around the table to discuss the nominations put forward. Darren Murinas, CEO of Expert Citizens, Andy Meakin, CEO Voices of Stoke, Lisa Newman, Marketing Communications Specialist of The Nelson Trust, Mike Lewis Managing Director of, Nine Lives Media, Philippa Budgen, Media Consultant and Laura Furness, Head of Funding for the National Lottery Community Fund.
There is a widespread negative perception of the media at the moment, but this award and the nominations have highlighted that there is sensitive and empathetic journalism taking place that has the ability to challenge the status quo. The award celebrates journalism that is solutions focused and involves lived experience to raise awareness and empowers audiences. The themes that the three finalists covered aren’t new, but the stories they told brought new insight and I think I speak for all of the judges when I say we saw them as real catalysts for change.
The inaugural winner of the Insight through Journalism Award is
Maeve McClenaghan, from Bureau Local, at The Bureau of Investigative Journalism for their Dying Homeless Project.
For a year, Maeve McClenaghan attended funerals and inquests, interviewed family members, collected coroner’s reports, shadowed homeless outreach teams, and compiled Freedom of Information requests. The aim was to get a figure for the number of people who had died whilst homeless in the UK. No official body officially counted this. In a first-of-its-kind figure, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed that at least 449 people had died while homeless in the UK. The ground-breaking impact of this work has been profound. National charities for people experiencing homelessness have referred to the situation as a “national crisis” and politicians have called for action.
This piece of journalism has created real change. In December 2018, the Office of National Statistics confirmed that it will now compile and release its own official estimate.
“You couldn’t fail to see, and be moved by, this piece of work if you have any part of the multiple disadvantage sector. It was a brutally honest, insightful, sensitive, impactful and ongoing piece of journalism which I have absolutely no doubt will inform policy and practice“ Laura Furness
Lisa Newman said “The investigation has lasting impact. It can’t offer a solution but it does offer a better way.”
With much discussion and debate the judges selected two runners up who also demonstrated excellent representation of multiple disadvantage in journalism.
Peter Blackburn,Senior Staff Writer, at The British Medical Association.
Peter’s research and reporting have demonstrated that demand for NHS services from people experiencing homelessness is soaring. Almost 32,000 visits to A&E in 2018 compared to 11,000 visits seven years earlier. Hospital stays reflect the same pattern. But, Peter notes that even these figures are likely to be a significant underestimate. People’s homelessness is often missed due to poor recording systems. Importantly, Peter’s work goes beyond these crucial but faceless statistics to give names and personalities to those affected. He lends his voice to people experiencing homelessness too.
“A great use of professional, specialist reporting to health professionals. The painstaking reporting lays out in detail and nuance, the issues for homeless people and their health.” Philippa Budgen
Estel Farell-Roig, Senior reporter at WalesOnline
In Estel’s article entitled, “My son died using heroin”, she tells the story of a supportive middle class family that lost their son to a heroin overdose. Estel spent time building a relationship with the family resulting in a thorough non-judgmental piece about his life, addiction, and struggle to get the help he needed in a system his parents felt offered a “one-size-fits-all” pathway. The piece helped give the family a platform to campaign for drug treatment reform. They’re now campaigners for “Anyone’s Child” which is a network of families whose lives have been affected by these issues.
“Hard hitting, honest, painful but essential to hear.” Lisa Newman
I hope that by highlighting the impact that brave and humane journalism can have we will encourage others to do the same.
About the author:
Jude Habib is the Founder and Creative Director of sounddelivery. sounddelivery is an award-winning digital storytelling agency that delivers training and events to amplify the voices of people with lived experience in the charity sector, media and beyond so that they can contribute to and create change.
The other shortlisted journalists that were judged as part of the Insight Through Journalism Award were:
Richard Ault, Chief Agenda Writer, The Sentinel: Lived experience of hardship, Stoke Sentinel in collaboration with Staffordshire University and the Hardship Commission
Nina McNamara and Kate Littler, Founder, Bird Podcast www.birdpocast.co.uk
Aditya Chakrabortty, Senior Economics Commentator, The Guardian
Jackie Long, Social Affairs Editor, Channel 4 News: Poverty Report
Lucy Nichol, Independent, Metro and Spotify: Mental health and addiction
Hugh Huddy – Hearing Homelessness
Laura Furness: Judging the Expert Citizens Insight Through Journalism Awards http://www.expertcitizens.org.uk/laura-furness-judging-expert-citizens-insight-journalism-awards/