NECIR co-founder, senior reporter, honored for journalism excellence

The New England Center for Investigative Reporting received two prestigious awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association on Oct. 9.

Joe Bergantino, NECIR director and co-founder, won the 2014 Yankee Quill Award by the Academy of New England Journalists, a group of previous Quill winners and representatives from regional journalism organizations.

 The Yankee Quill Award  recognizes the “lifetime  achievement of those who  have had a broad influence  for good, both inside and  outside the newsroom.”  Given annually for more  than a half century, it is the  highest honor for  journalists in New England.

Jenifer McKim won an award for her work on child fatalities.
Jenifer McKim won an award for her work on child fatalities.

Bergantino was chosen  because of his 22 years as  the I-Team reporter for  WBZ-TV in Boston, as well  as his role in co-founding NECIR.

The center also was honored with a 2014 “Publick Occurrences” award for two stories focusing on child fatalities in the state’s child welfare system. They include senior investigative reporter Jenifer McKim’s reports: “Massachusetts children under state protection die from abuse with alarming frequency” and “Explosion of drug-dependent infants reveals weakness in Mass child protect.”

The stories were published in The Boston Globe and on the NECIR website. NECIR staff writer Michael Bottari contributed to the report on drug-dependent infants.

Judges said the stories were, “A heartbreaking, critical look at the failures of the state’s DCF….  These stories deftly blended hard data with compelling narratives. They explored questionable calls made by the agency and how its policies are affecting children in the state. Despite the painful personal realities described by those interviewed, the reader still walks away informed of larger questions related to the child welfare system as a whole and its management.”

The Publick Occurrences awards were created in 1990 to mark the 300th anniversary of the founding of America’s first newspaper, Publick Occurences, which only published a few days before it was suppressed by the British royal governor.