Pittsburgh Institute for Nonprofit Journalism wins four awards in statewide contests

By Brittany Hailer

The Pittsburgh Institute for Nonprofit Journalism has been recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists Keystone Pro Chapter and the Pennsylvania Press Club for stories investigating higher education, incarceration and the criminal justice system.

With less than a year of the newspaper’s launch, PINJ is honored by the recognition of our 2021 investigations. 

PINJ received three SPJ Keystone Chapter’s Excellence in Journalism contest awards, including two first place awards. The Society of Professional Journalists Keystone Pro Chapter Spotlight Contest annually recognizes the best in journalism in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Mary Niederberger won first place in education for non-daily newspapers for “Leveling the Playing Field,” a deep-dive into how students with disabilities navigate higher education in Western Pennsylvania. This project was made possible by the Education Writers Association, and was the group of stories that launched the Pinjnews.org website. 

Brittany Hailer received first place in enterprise for non-daily newspapers for “COVID-19, Rodents, Unpaid Labor: A Year In The Allegheny County Jail Kitchen,” an investigation into how incarcerated kitchen workers endured the pandemic, unsanitary work conditions, and poor food quality at the Allegheny County Jail.

Brittany Hailer, Mary Niederberger and Jody DiPerna received second place in the same enterprise category for “It started with a parking ticket and ended with a police shooting. Four years later, the defendant has yet to go to trial” a story about the events that led up to Wilkinsburg Police Officers shooting Todd Robinson, who is still awaiting trial. 

The Pennsylvania Press Club, an affiliate of the National Federation of Press Women awarded Brittany Hailer second place for continued coverage or unfolding news for her continued reporting on the Allegheny County Jail in the 2022 Pennsylvania Communications Contest. Learn more about the Press Club and winners here. 

PINJ has six stories nominated across five categories in the Western Pennsylvania Press Club’s 2022 Golden Quills competition. Winners will be announced during the annual Golden Quills dinner on May 24. PINJ’s nominations are as follows:

Excellence in Written Journalism — Division 3


“COVID-19, Rodents, Unpaid Labor: A Year in the Allegheny County Jail Kitchen”

Brittany Hailer  

News Feature

“Leveling the Playing Field”

Mary Niederberger  

Traditional Feature

“Three Years in Solitary Confinement: An Open Letter From the Allegheny County Jail”

James Byrd  

Public Affairs/Politics/Government

“It Started With a Parking Ticket and Ended With a Police Shooting. Four Years Later, The Defendant Has Yet To Go To Trial”  

Brittany Hailer, Jody DiPerna and Mary Niederbeger


“Leveling the Playing Field”

Mary Niederberger  

“Pandemic Chronic Absenteeism Plagues the Pittsburgh Public Schools”

Mary Niederberger