A Small Web Site’s Big Win: A reporter’s hunch leads to a national ethics award.
In true journalist fashion, Karen Gadbois, cofounder and staff writer at The Lens in New Orleans, listened to her gut. Her hunch that a murder victim had a criminal record led to a story, one that ultimately earned her the Society of Professional Journalists’ annual Ethics in Journalism Award.
Henry “Mike” Ainsworth was killed in January while trying to prevent a carjacking. Despite Ainsworth’s heroic efforts, Gadbois believed there was something missing from the story.
The New Orleans Police Department has a history of revealing crime victims’ criminal records, a practice widely criticized by many in the community. Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas has consistently released arrest records because he said he felt it showed the community that much of the violence in the city involves people with similar backgrounds. Yet in this case, the police did not mention a record.
And there was a difference in this case: while much of New Orleans’ crime is black on black, Ainsworth was white.
“I felt like this is curious that this victim’s criminal record hadn’t been given out,” Gadbois says.