NATICK — “Am I A Bigot?”, The Item/Itemlive.com series featuring perspectives on that question and written by four of the paper’s staff and nine community contributors, received the New England Newspaper & Press Association Publick Occurrences Award in recognition of outstanding journalism in 2017 on Thursday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
In selecting The Item for the award, Association judges said the series contributors were “remarkably frank” in detailing ways bigotry on a small and large scale is a part of everyday life.
“Some readers said they were insulted — a few even canceled their subscriptions — and others indicated they were enthralled. All were provoked to think, which is part of The Daily Item’s mission,” the Association stated.
The award was established in 1990 to recognize individual and team merit at New England newspapers to mark the 300th anniversary of the founding of Publick Occurrences, the first newspaper published in America. Four days after it appeared in Boston in 1690, Publick Occurrences was suppressed by the royal governor.
The series, published between March 27 and April 5 against the backdrop of the accelerating and vocal national debate over immigration, featured a broad range of perspectives on bigotry.
Item Night Editor Cheryl Charles shared her experience as an African-American. Sports Editor Steve Krause discussed bigotry experienced by overweight individuals. News Editor Thor Jourgensen shared how his upbringing in Wyoming gave him bigoted misconceptions that have taken a lifetime to shatter. Community Relations Director for Essex Media Group Carolina Trujillo discussed bigotry from the perspective of a Latino woman.
The nine reader contributors offered their own viewpoints on bigotry with former Lynn City Councilor and Community Development director Edward T. Calnan and Attorney James J. Carrigan discussing bigotry aimed historically at Irish immigrants.
Former refugee Yosra Girdia discussed anti-Muslim bias. Marblehead High School students Averi Kaplowitch and Olivia Schauer shared their experiences as young women fighting anti-Semitic hatred.
Disability advocate Trisha Malphrus of Swampscott offered insights into bigotry aimed at people with disabilities and Lynn City Councilor at Large Hong Net related his experiences as a native of Cambodia.
Scholar and Boston Latin Academy teacher Anthony Mathieu offered his perspectives on racial bigotry and Ruben Montano-Lopez, a local social service worker, offered his viewpoint as a Latino gay man who has experienced bigotry.
The idea for the series stemmed from a conversation between Attorney Carrigan and Item President and Publisher Edward M. Grant two years ago.
Grant praised the 13 writers and Item photographers who contributed to the series as well as Item graphic artist Gerald Hersh, who created the series’ signature composite design.
“Essex Media Group has owned the Item for three years. As its publisher I’ve never been more proud of our staff as I was watching four of them receive this award (yesterday). They and the nine readers who also contributed to this series wrote from the heart. For them to be recognized by the New England Newspaper & Press Association is rewarding to us all,” said Grant.