Stories on Teenage Relationship Violence and Sexual Assaults on Reservations Honored by Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma

By Christine Cupaiuolo — April 1, 2008

A Cleveland Plain Dealer series on teen dating violence, told through the story of a high school student raped and shot by her ex-boyfriend, and a NPR report on the epidemic of rape on Native American reservations are winners of the 2008 Dart Awards for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma.

Established in 1995, the annual Dart Awards, presented by the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at the University of Washington, recognize “outstanding reporting that portrays traumatic events with accuracy, insight and sensitivity while illustrating the effects of trauma on victims’ lives and the process of recovery from emotional trauma.” From the release announcing this year’s winners:

The Cleveland Plain Dealer received the Dart Award for “Johanna: Facing Forward” (Rachel Dissell, reporter; Gus Chan, photographer). This remarkable nine-day series traced events leading to the 2007 shooting of 18-year-old Johanna Orozco by her 17-year-old boyfriend. Exploring the roots of relationship violence through Johanna’s eyes, the series – reported and photographed over six months – particularly struck a chord in Cleveland’s Latino community and led to the creation of abuse-awareness programs for teens. […]

National Public Radio received the Dart Award for “Sexual Abuse of Native American Women” (Laura Sullivan, correspondent; Amy Walters, producer; Maria Godoy, Digital Media Producer), a startling two-part investigative series that opened a new window onto a national disgrace. The series exposed both the fate of women assaulted on reservations, and the web of impunity protecting their assailants.

I was very moved by the NPR report and wrote about it last year when it first aired.

When I find the time, I’m going to read the full Cleveland Plain Dealer series. The paper’s website offers online extras, including story updates, podcasts and resources. Last month, Joanna wrote a letter describing her recovery one year after the assault and her plans for the future.

All too often we’re appalled by insensitive or incomplete coverage. The excellent reporting reflected here deserves widespread attention. More Dart Award radio and newspaper finalists can be found here.

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