Columbia, Mo., Palestine Herald-Press Editor Jeffery Gerritt has won the 2020 Burl Osborne Award for Editorial Leadership and Community Engagement, the News Leaders Association announced Monday.
The second annual NLA Awards combines the previously separate ASNE and APME Awards, among the most prestigious in journalism. The Burl Osborne Award is sponsored by The Dallas Morning News in memory of Burl Osborne, who died in 2012.
Gerritt won for a collection of editorials, including the Death Without Conviction series on medical neglect in Texas' county jails.
Judges called the editorial-page series an “unflinching challenge to the bureaucracy of Texas to review and take ownership of in-custody deaths.”
The award comes with a $1,250 cash prize. Last month, Gerritt won the National Headliner Award for editorial writing.
“I've been very fortunate – call it lucky – considering the competition,” Gerritt said. “In the midst of a global pandemic, awards don't seem to matter much. Still, I'm grateful to the judges for recognizing work that brought to light injustices to people who are too often forgotten.”
NLA awards honor the best in print, digital, photo, and video content in 11 categories. The contest drew 455 entries. Winners and finalists exemplify the “important and powerful work under way in newsrooms across the country, in defiance of the economic trends we hear so much about and in service of the First Amendment,” said NLA President Michael Days.
The Burl Osborne Award divided into two circulation groups – large and small. Robert Greene of the Los Angeles Times won in the large circulation category for “Criminal Justice in Los Angeles.”
The staff of the Miami Herald won the contest's Batten Medal for Courage in Journalism.