LSU’s Manship School Honors The Advocate with Courage & Justice Award for ‘Tilting the Scales’ series
April 24, 2019
Baton Rouge, LA – LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication presented its Courage & Justice Award to The Advocate Tuesday for its Pulitzer-prize winning work ‘Tilting the Scales,’ a series that shed light on Louisiana’s 120-year-old use of non-unanimous jury verdicts to convict defendants in felony trials. The award recognizes the management, news and editorial staffs of The Advocate for their dedication to investigating and publishing the series.
The Advocate’s reporting explored the 19th century Jim Crow roots of the split jury conviction policy and its contemporary judicial effects. The series utilized a database of about 1,000 cases to show that conviction by a split jury verdict was substantially more frequent for African American defendants compared to white defendants.
In November 2018, after the series was published, Louisiana voters approved a constitutional amendment to require unanimous agreement of jurors for felony convictions, making Louisiana criminal court procedure consistent with nearly every other state in the U.S. and federal courts.
The ‘Tilting the Scales’ series earned national journalism accolades, including a Pulitzer Prize for local reporting, a Pulitzer finalist nod for editorial writing and a George R. Polk Award in state reporting for the series.
“We are proud to join the chorus of voices recognizing The Advocate’s exceptional investigative reporting,” Martin Johnson, dean of the Manship School, said. “We commend the leadership of The Advocate for its investment in this important journalism, and we applaud the journalists who dedicated themselves to reporting on this issue in the service of justice.”
The Courage & Justice Award is the Manship School’s premiere award recognizing heroic efforts in the pursuit of just causes and civic benefits that employ courage and ethics. The award comes with a $1,000 prize which is underwritten by Donna and Hans Sternberg.
Prior Courage & Justice Award winners include Concordia Sentinel editor Stanley Nelson (2011); WBRZ anchor and reporter Buddy “Bob” Johnson (2012); science education activist Zachary Kopplin (2014); and WAFB anchor Donna Britt (2017).
The above photo shows Advocate staff accepting the Courage & Justice Award: (L to R): Editor Peter Kovacs; Editorial Writer Lanny Keller; Gordon Russell, Managing Editor, Investigations; and Manship School Dean Martin Johnson.
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LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication ranks among the strongest collegiate communication programs in the country, with its robust emphasis on media and public affairs. It offers undergraduate degrees in public relations, journalism, political communication, digital advertising and pre-law, along with four graduate degree programs: master of mass communication, Ph.D. in media and public affairs, certificate of strategic communication, and dual MMC/law degree. Its public relations students were recently ranked the #1 team in the nation, and its digital advertising and student media teams frequently earn national recognition.