The Pocono Record newsroom has been the recipient of some good news recently:
We won the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ (PICPA) “Truth in Finances Award” in the small newspaper category and we won in several categories in the PNA Foundation “Newspaper of the Year” Contest.
The “Truth in Finances Award” award honors “excellence and balanced reporting that clarifies misinterpretations of financial issues that affect individuals or the community at large, uncovers financial fraud, or reports on fraudulent activities that harm the financial well being of individuals, communities, or companies in or around the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
The award recognized our groundbreaking crowdsourcing investigation of East Stroudsburg University Foundation’s donor files arising from the Isaac Sanders scandal. More specifically, our work was the culmination of four years worth of teeth prying we took up in court.
The Pocono Record relentlessly pursued these donor files, arguing that they were public records.
ESU and ESUF tried to block us at every turn.
We got the records — all 14,000 of them – in a “document dump” meant to thwart our efforts to find the specific information we were seeking.
But we posted all the files “on the cloud” and invited readers to help us wade through the avalanche of paper to find the needles in a haystack we needed.
In the end, not only were we victorious in gaining the records, we set a statewide legal precedent for public records rules AND the materials served as the springboard to revealing stories like this one:
And we continue to dig, BTW.
The Pocono Record was also honored in the 2013 PNA Foundation “Newspaper of the Year” Contest.
We won in the following areas:
Layout and Design
Best Use of Photography
General and Departmental Coverage
Editorial/Opinion Page Excellence
These honors reflect the newsroom’s devotion and professional spirit.