FALMOUTH — A series of stories in The Forecaster about physical restraints used on public school students has earned one of the nation’s most prestigious journalism awards.

The Society of Professional Journalists announced Tuesday in Indianapolis that reporter Emily Parkhurst will receive a Sigma Delta Chi Award for Investigative Reporting for her series, “Children held down.”

The award, which will be presented in New Orleans in September, is one of four for newspaper investigative reporting and the only one for investigative work published by a weekly publication.

“Emily’s series was thoughtful and thought-provoking,” Mo Mehlsak, editor of The Forecaster, said. “Her work brought to light practices that many public school officials would rather keep hidden, and prompted policy change by the state Department of Education. Emily is a tenacious and dedicated reporter, and well-deserving of this tremendous honor.”

Other winners in the Investigative Reporting category were Ruben Vives, Jeff Gottlieb and the staff of the Los Angeles Times (daily circulation 100,001-plus); Paige St. John of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune (daily circulation 50,000-100,000), and Kirsti Marohn and Britt Johnsen of the St. Cloud Times (daily circulation up to 50,000).

SPJ announced a total of 89 Sigma Delta Chi Awards. Judges chose the winners from more than 1,400 entries in categories covering print, radio, television and online. The awards recognize outstanding work published or broadcast in 2010.

Dating back to 1932, the awards originally honored six individuals for contributions to journalism. The current program began in 1939, when the Society granted the first Distinguished Service Awards. The honors later became the Sigma Delta Chi Awards.

The awards banquet will be Sept. 24 in New Orleans during the joint SPJ-Radio Television Digital News Association Excellence in Journalism conference.

Links to the winners’ work in each category are online at spj.org.

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Emily Parkhurst

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