KSC Students Collect Reporting Awards for Justice in New Hampshire
KEENE, N.H., 4/26/07 - Keene State College journalism students recently collected two awards for their publication Justice in New Hampshire, a 15-year retrospective of the Pam Smart murder trial, which was published in KSC’s student newspaper, The Equinox, on April 20, 2006.
The students won a Journalists’ Mark of Excellence Award in In-Depth Reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) on April 14 during the SPJ Spring Conference held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.
Region 1, the nation’s largest geographic SPJ region, includes all colleges and universities in the six New England states and in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. This year more than 3,300 entries were submitted.
The Newspaper Guild-CWA awarded the team an honorable mention for the 2006 David S. Barr Award, which recognizes students for a journalistic achievement that has helped to right a wrong, corrected an injustice, or promoted justice and fairness. The competition included submissions from college student newspapers in the United States and Canada.
Students in journalism professor Marianne Salcetti’s Public Affairs reporting class spent 14 months studying the Pam Smart murder case, which shocked New Hampshire in 1991. Pam Smart was sentenced to life in prison without parole and currently resides at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Bedford, New York.
“She pushed us to find more information,” Michael Rideout, a senior majoring in journalism, says of his teacher. “She said, ‘know what you know and know what you don’t know.’”
The students searched records, conducted interviews, tracked down defendants, and uncovered questions about the trial. They filed 60 Freedom of Information requests. Less than 25 percent of these requests were approved, and the students filed challenges on all refusals.
The 24-page printed publication contains exclusive material that draws on six hours of student interviews of Pam Smart in prison, two of the recently- released conspirators, the governor, attorney general, the trial judge, Smart’s defense lawyer, the original prosecutor, corrections’ officials, and the investigating detective, among others.
The project questions whether Smart could have received a fairer trial, given nonsequestering of the jury, possible juror misconduct, ballistics’ issues, and evidentiary authentication of wiretap materials. Through interviews, legal research, and exclusive materials provided by one of the conspirator’s families, it offers an in-depth look at the case and ensuing events. For more information, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.