Panel: Keystone Press Award Winners

By William Derry

Five Keystone award winners what it took to produce award winning stories on a panel Saturday and told journalists what they could do to produce high quality work. Here’s what they said:


Dana DiFilippo
News Organization: WHYY/Newsworks
Begging for mercy: Philly panhandlers say citations are ‘pointless’
While making her daily five-block walk to work one day, Dana DiFilippo noticed a homeless man who was panhandling receive a ticket, so she went up to him and asked why he had received the ticket.

That interaction prompted DiFilippo to talk with nine more men, who were also panhandling. That led to an article about the conundrum of giving tickets to those who cannot afford to pay them.

Although she finished the article in a week, DiFilippo said that stories are everywhere and that she was intrigued to ask questions that she always wanted to know the answers to.

“You can do really good work on a smaller scale. Small stories can have big impact,” she said.


Jason Laughlin
News Organization: Philadelphia Media Network
Entry Title: Why Your Train Is Late
Transportation coverage can be become very dry at times, according Jason Laughlin.

But you can tell stories that affect people.

Laughlin and two other staff writers at the Philadelphia Media Network decided to answer a question that affects many SEPTA Regional Rail riders: Why your train is late?

Laughlin and his colleagues also discovered interesting activities that could be done with the time wasted waiting for the train.

One piece of advice that Laughlin offered to attendees of the panel discussion: “If (a topic) not universal, then it may not be worth writing.”


Joe Smydo
Editorial Writer
News Organization: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Entry Titles: Confronting the past; Tainted CDC; Taking their Shots

Joe Smydo continued his coverage of mental illness in the state of Pennsylvania this past year by writing various editorials about its impact on state residents.

He focused his reporting on two communities with a high number of mental illness cases, finding a way to present “cool” data and tell human stories.


Amy Rosenberg
Staff Writer
News Organization: Philadelphia Media Network
Entry Titles: With start of both DNC and Eagles camp, worlds collide in South Philly,Mississippi Freedom delegate remembers turbulent 1964 in Atlantic City and Ex-prosecutor: I would’ve let Philly juvenile lifer out in 8 years


Despite a tight deadline, Amy Rosenberg completed two feature stories that were published three days apart from each other. Rosenberg admitted that it was a lot of work but the second feature that was published had been a story that she wanted to know more about. The article about the young juvenile lifer was a story that Rosenberg had known about since 1988, so her knowledge of the piece was extensive.


Joshua Vaughn
News Organization: The Sentinel Carlisle
Entry Title: 181 Shooting: John Wayne Strawser


No one wanted to dig into the background of John Wayne Strawser, who was accused of killing a man on Interstate shooting, until Joshua Vaughn decided to investigate.

Vaughn published a four-part series that examined what lead up to the killing of Timothy Davison, and the death of Amy Lou Buckingham.  Through public documents and taking two vacation days to  drive to West Virginia for police records, he pieced together a story about how the deaths could have been prevented.


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