The New England First Amendment Coalition presented Wesleyan English major Jenifer McKim ’88 with a 2016 Freedom of Information Award.
McKim is senior investigative reporter and trainer at the New England Center for Investigative Reporting (NECIR), a nonprofit based out of Boston University and WGBH. The Freedom of Information Award is presented annually to New England journalists who protect or advance the public’s right to know under federal or state law.
McKim’s award-winning series, “Out of the Shadows—Shining Light on State Failures to Learn from Rising Child Abuse and Neglect Deaths,” first published by the Boston Globe, examined the effectiveness of the Department of Child and Family Services oversight for suspected cases of abuse and neglect.
McKim noted that the stories—often heartbreaking and thus difficult to write—did instigate important systemic changes when published..
“Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker immediately held a press conference and announced that the state would improve screening of suspected abuse and neglect calls, particularly requiring that criminal history reports would be done on every caretaker, something we had pointed to in our reporting. About two months later, the governor eliminated the troubled two-tier system [of graduated risk] altogether, an issue that before our stories had not been in play at all. And we are still fighting for better government transparency when it comes to child abuse and neglect fatalities.”
McKim, who also teaches investigative skills to students and mentors journalists, said, “I really am proud of this work and being part of the small but growing world of nonprofit journalism. It’s exciting to be at the forefront of finding new ways to pay for and tell important stories that make a difference.”