Mental health project named a finalist in national award

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The Investigative Journalism Education Consortium was named a finalist this week in a national award honoring outstanding student investigative journalism projects in 2012.

The consortium’s five month project “Stressed: Demands, counselor shortages strain campus mental health systems” was recognized by Investigative Reporters and Editors, a 4,000 member organization in its annual awards competition. The consortium, based at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, launched in 2011 and was funded by a grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

“We are deeply honored to be a finalist in the most competitive investigative reporting awards for students,” said Brant Houston, who coordinates the consortium and is a professor and Knight Chair in Investigative Reporting at the University of Illinois. “It is terrific to have this ongoing collaboration recognized by IRE.”

The consortium’s project included  students and their faculty from the University of Illinois, Southern Illinois University, Columbia College in Chicago, Ball State University, the University of Wisconsin and University of Iowa and the University of Missouri.

The stories were published over a period of two months and distributed to more than two dozen media outlets across the Midwest including the New York Times. Since the initial reports, students and faculty in the consortium have continued to follow the issue and also have explored other topics such as mental health services in local jails, services for veterans and issues in agribusiness.

Other  finalists named in the awards included  students at  SUNY New Paltz who worked on stories on fracking (drilling for natural gas) and  Columbia University students who published stories on lobbying in the New York legislature. The winner  was Alex Stuckey  at Ohio University for stories on drug enforcement.

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