|“Committed” project from Health News Florida collaboration highlights skyrocketing number of Florida children involuntarily committed for psychiatric exams
|Nadia King’s mother Martina Faulk, in her home on a couch, holds a photo album of her daughter’s baby pictures.
Tampa, FL (August 17, 2021) —A joint investigation between WUSF Public Media’s Health News Florida and WFSU News was awarded a 2021 national Edward R. Murrow Award for an in-depth news series entitled “Committed” that focused on the skyrocketing number of Florida children involuntarily committed for psychiatric evaluations.
The award in the small radio news series category focused on The Baker Act, a 50- year-old law not created with kids in mind. The collaborative project highlighted the stories of children sent into confinement by school officials, often without notifying their parents.
Each day in Florida, about 100 kids are involuntarily committed. The five-part “Committed” project found children were the fastest-growing group of people subjected to the Baker Act rules, with more than 36,000 children affected each year.
One child featured in the five-part series, Nadia King, was six years old when she was taken from her Jacksonville school to a detention facility without her parent’s knowledge. She was held there for 48 hours, despite her parents’ plea to release her.
The project, reported on by WFSU Public Media journalist Lynn Hatter and edited by Health News Florida Editor Julio Ochoa, was conceived and produced as a project for the Fund for Journalism on Child Well-Being, a program of the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism’s 2020 National Fellowship.
“’Committed’ is a fantastic example of public media journalists in Florida digging deep into vital issues of public health that are often overlooked,” said WUSF General Manager JoAnn Urofsky. “Our partnership with WFSU radio on this investigation is a great example of the collaboration between journalists to serve the residents of Florida with news and information they need.”
For the past 50 years, the Edward R. Murrow Awards have been granted by the Radio Television Digital News Association for outstanding achievements in broadcast and digital journalism. The Committed project was specifically recognized in the small-market radio category.
Last year, WUSF was honored with three Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards and 15 awards for excellence from the Florida Association of Broadcast Journalists, recognizing the extraordinary work of reporters, producers, hosts and editors who bring news and information to this region. The Murrow awards are considered the pinnacle awards in the broadcasting industry. Winners will be honored at the Murrow Awards Gala in New York City in October.