Further awards for The Detail's journalism

THE Detail has won two major awards for statistical excellence in journalism, it was announced today.

The Royal Statistical Society (RSS) presented four prestigious prizes, with The Detail winning two of the titles.

The Detail’s deputy editor Kathryn Torney was named the Royal Statistical Society’s 2015 Regional Journalism winner for a report that revealed suicide had killed as many people as the violence of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

American journalist Jon McClure took the Investigative Journalism award for his work on The Detail’s Script Report which examined 36 million prescription records to show that Northern Ireland has one of the world’s highest prescription rates for antidepressant medicines.

The RSS praised the quality of The Detail’s journalism, with the organisation also confirming that the other two winning journalists were drawn from The Financial Times and BBC News.

It is the second major award ceremony The Detail has been recognised at in recent weeks. Earlier this month The Detail was named Best Local/Regional News Site at the prestigious Online Media Awards in London.

The Royal Statistical Society established its awards for statistical excellence in journalism in 2007 to encourage the highest standards in the use of statistics by journalists to question, analyse and investigate the issues that affect society at large.

The RSS said that journalistic excellence in statistics helps citizens to hold decision-makers in all sectors to account through accessible communication of complex information, through the highlighting of success and the exposure of important missing information.

For Kathryn Torney’s piece, ‘Suicide kills as many as the Troubles’, the judges said she was to be commended for using statistics to highlight an important issue.

The judges said: “This was an interesting topic, of great public interest to the region. It clearly presented and explained the data relating to suicide in Northern Ireland, including contrasting the numbers dying through suicide since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement compared with the numbers killed during the Troubles.

“The article presented simple statistics in an interesting, interactive way, providing links to the sources of data which allowed the interested reader to further scrutinise the data. There was a good discussion of the possible mechanisms with relevant quotes from experts, concluding with areas of further work that could be done to investigate the issue in greater detail. “

It’s the second time that Kathryn has picked up a Statistical Excellence in Journalism award. In 2013 year she won the online category for a piece examining religious segregation in Northern Ireland’s school system.

Commenting on Jon McClure’s work on the Script Report the judges said they were impressed with how he pulled together information from various areas to compile a large dataset of relevant material.

They said: “This was a well-grounded piece of investigative journalism using previously unpublished statistical information to highlight the apparently anomalous situation regarding drug prescribing in Northern Ireland in order to stimulate further investigation by the relevant authorities.

“The authors told the story in a non-sensational manner using relevant national and international comparisons to delve in-depth and focus on a specific issue. Overall it was an appropriate length, with good use of graphics and interactivity and the authors are to be commended for the way in which they pulled together data from various areas to compile a large dataset of relevant material.”

Jon worked at The Detail as part of a four month placement with the Larry J. Waller Fellowship. He now works for the investigative projects team at The Dallas Morning News.

A list of the RSS winners, along with citations from the judges, can be found by clicking here.