Minnesota Public Radio News receives SPJ New America Award for Somali coverage

Minnesota SPJ congratulates member Laura Yuen!

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists is pleased to name Minnesota Public Radio News as the recipient of its New America Award, which honors work that explores and exposes issues of importance to immigrant or ethnic communities living in the U.S.

The entry, “Civil War Kids: Young Somalis in Minnesota,” was chosen based on the extensive work of Laura Yuen, Laura McCallum and Mike Edgerly. The three-part series offers a timely and unflinching look at the continuing violence rippling throughout Minnesota’s Somali community, as well as the vulnerabilities, challenges and triumphs of its youth.

The first part of the series focuses on both gang violence and the radicalization of a small segment of young men in the Twin Cities. The second piece explores the rarely discussed issue of mental health in the community and the post-traumatic stress from the experiences of war. The final installment sheds light the successes of young Somali-Americans who are thriving in school and giving back to the local community.

MPR News also launched an online project page featuring photographs, stories, and audio clips that went beyond the radio pieces. As a follow-up to the series, MPR recently hosted a live broadcast with the BBC to discuss similar themes of identity and belonging among Somalia’s “civil war kids” in London, St. Paul, Minn., and Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.

“MPR’s effort stands as a model for other media looking to shed some light on local immigrant communities,” SPJ Awards and Honors Committee Chairwoman Ginny Frizzi said. “While the face of America continues to change with every ethnic group that arrives, the story of how they are adjusting and adapting to their new country is one that needs to be explored and told.”

This is the seventh year the award has been presented. The recipients will be honored at a banquet Sept. 24 in New Orleans during the joint SPJ-RTDNA Excellence in Journalism 2011 conference.

For complete details on the New America Award, including past recipients, please see the SPJ website or contact awards coordinator Lauren Rochester at 317-927-8000 ext. 210.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.