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Mountain West News Bureau wins Regional Murrow Award for investigative reporting

Radio Television Digital News Association

The Mountain West News Bureau, in collaboration with NPR and the Boise State Public Radio newsroom, has won a regional 2022 Edward R. Murrow Award for its investigative reporting on tribal jails.

The series by reporters Nate Hegyi and Savannah Maher revealed that at least 19 people have died in tribal jails overseen by the federal government since 2016. Neglect and inadequate training played major roles in those deaths.

The stories were named Best Series among large market radio stations in a region that includes California, Nevada and Hawaii. The Radio Television Digital News Association oversees the awards.

“The reporters highlighted a very serious problem that has been ignored for years,” said Dave Rosenthal, managing editor of the Mountain West News Bureau. “And they detailed the human cost – for those who died and for the relatives left behind.

“This is an issue that still needs to be fully addressed by federal officials. And we’ll continue to report on the government’s response.”

The series led the Interior Department to order an independent review of management practices at tribal jails. But further reporting showed that the review was led by a former Interior official who had become a consultant – and that sparked criticism from some lawmakers.

The tribal jails stories were edited by NPR’s Cheryl W. Thompson and Kate Concannon, former managing editor of the Mountain West News Bureau.

The Bureau is a collaboration of Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico and the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana. It also draws support from eight affiliate stations.

Hegyi worked for Nevada Public Radio and Maher for KUNM.

“We’re honored to receive this recognition – especially in a region that includes cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. The award is a testimony to the reporters’ work in highlighting the tragic human impact of mismanagement,” Rosenthal said.

Named after the famed 20th-century journalist, Edward R. Murrow, the awards recognize the best radio, television and online reporting in commercial and non-commercial media.

The tribal jail series was supported by a grant from the Pulitzer Center in Washington, D.C.

The series now advances to the final round of the Murrow competition, where it will face regional winners from across the country.

Copyright 2022 Boise State Public Radio News. To see more, visit Boise State Public Radio News.