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Brittany Horn wins Rookie of the Year 2015

Brittany Horn wins the MDDC Rookie of the Year prize for new journalists on the strength of her investigative reporting.  Horn covers breaking news and crime across Delaware, focusing on Wilmington and New Castle County crime trends, for The News Journal.

Eight nominations were received from six member publications for 2015 nominations. The award was judged by a distinguished panel: Lucy Dalglish, Dean and Professor of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland, Tom Linthicum, President of TDL Group and veteran journalist, and John League, retired publisher of The Herald-Mail in Hagerstown. 

The judges were impressed with the caliber of the nominees and their work in the short time they have been professional journalists.  Journalists today need to be able to tell their stories in a variety of ways and in a variety of platforms and the nominees showed great potential and contributions to their nominating organizations.  The judges felt that Horn has an “unusually sophisticated ability to gather and report information, while making sense of very difficult topics.”   For a story on shootings in Wilmington, judges noted her “ability to conceive the story and do the basic grunt level statistical work” to make it happen.  Further, Horn writes stories that had an impact in the community.  Horn’s news director at the News Journal, Phil Freedman, notes that her investigation of the number of rape kits that sit untested in crime labs directly led to legislation to fund a program to test the kits and try to find peace of mind, or at least closure, for the victims.”  The judges were impressed by her “extremely thorough reporting” and her ability to identify and tell the story in the data.

Horn’s nominating editor, Phil Freedman, wrote in his recommendation letter: 

“She came [in May 2015] as night police reporter, but we quickly realized that we needed to cut her loose statewide as an investigative asset. So much so, that we moved an enterprise reporter into her night cops role just so we could get Brittany a high profile situation where she could work more closely with senior reporters and editors. 

She hustles after stories, writes quickly and never says no to an assignment, no matter how pedestrian. But her greatest quality is her critical thinking. While on the night police beat, she came to top editors with a graphic she had put together showing that 25 percent of shootings in the city of Wilmington were occurring in a three-square-block area. She plotted data she kept herself, then hit the streets to find out what made that neighborhood such a magnet for violent crime. That reporting led to a four-day series that pulled back layers and years of misspent money which produced an area of the city largely ignored by leaders.“

Horn is a 2014 graduate of the Penn State University, University Park. 

Here’s what the judges said about our nominees for Rookie of the Year

Hannah Carroll, The Daily Times
“Variety of assignments, news and features. Stories got your attention.” “Good eye for a story and a wide range of topics.”  “Solid portfolio.”

Jessica Iannetta, Cecil Whig
“Demonstrated degree of versatility needed in current media environment.”  Could go out with camera and come back with a story and social media filing.” 

Quinn Kelley, The Baltimore Sun
“Very good social media skills.”  “Great versatility.”  “Given significant responsibilities even as a rookie.”  “Chose topics that resonated with readers and presented them in an interesting and engaging fashion.”

Jin Kim, The Baltimore Sun
“Data visualization skills were very good.”  “Good info graphics —especially "Legacy of Segregation" and "Where Baltimore Gets Its Guns””

Jonathan Munshaw, Baltimore Business Journal
“Most versatile of all nominees. Writer. editor. Attractive display. Facebook and Twitter.”  “Produced some impressive, well-designed business publications.” “To walk off campus and into associate editor role is pretty amazing.” 

Mitchell Northam, The Daily Times
“Covered a number of different things, shoots his own photos.”  “Has all the digital elements and solid social media followers.”  “Curiosity, enthusiasm and passion were evident in his stories.”

Katie Willis, The Star Democrat
“Solid writer.”  “Handled variety of stories.”

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