Neal Awards Finalists Show Heavy Mettle Taking on Vital and Topical Issues

One aspect that you notice quickly when looking at the 2023 Neal Awards finalists is that they take on very topical—and often not easy—subjects. I recently learned firsthand a couple lessons about accommodating people with accessibility issues, so it was great to see that an issue of IEEE Spectrum titled Nothing About Us Without Us was chosen as a Neal Awards finalist in the Best DEI Coverage category.

Nothing About Us Without Us comes from one of the rallying cries of the disabled community. “Assistive technologies are often designed without involving the people these technologies are supposed to help. That needs to change,” writes Harry Goldstein, acting editor-in-chief, IEEE Spectrum, in a preview of the issue and the article titled The Bionic-Hand Arms Race by Britt Young (pictured here from the issue’s cover).

(Goldstein and executive editor Jean Kumagai will present at our in-person Editorial Council Meeting at the Marriott Marquis in New York on the morning of the Neal Awards, April 21. Register here.)

“Young, who is working on a book about the prosthetics industry, was in the first cohort of toddlers fitted with a myoelectric prosthetic hand, which users control by tensing and relaxing their muscles against sensors inside the device’s socket,” Goldstein writes.

“IEEE Spectrum has covered many of these developments over the decades, but generally speaking it has involved able-bodied journalists writing about assistive technology… We are fortunate now to have the chance to break that pattern, thanks to a grant from the IEEE Foundation and the Jon C. Taenzer Memorial Fund. With the grant, Spectrum is launching a multiyear fellowship program for disabled writers.”

Kudos to Goldstein, Kumagai and IEEE Spectrum for this initiative. Here are four other Neal Awards finalists covering age, underrepresented communities of color, health law and post-Roe maternal health, respectively. The Neal Awards ceremony is close to being a sellout, so please register now to attend.

No re-tire-ment here. “A few months shy of his 93rd birthday, Bob Dunlap has no plans to retire. He says he’d be happy to spend his final moments on this Earth behind his wooden desk, gnawing on a cigar, crunching numbers and serving as chairman and CEO of Dunlap & Kyle Co. Inc.” That’s the start of a Neal Awards finalist article for Best Profile from Endeavor Business Media’s Modern Tire Dealer by Joy Kopcha. In 2021, Dunlap & Kyle surpassed $1 billion in sales, so Dunlap knows where he treads. Diversity comes in many forms today; often in photos age might be the underrepresented group. This article shows Dunlap great respect. “’We have a lot of charities,’ says Bob Dunlap, who has been recognized for his generosity. ‘The more of them you help and the more money you pay employees, the more money you’re going to make. People miss out on that.’”

Tech talk—and action. Another Neal Awards finalist profile comes from Foundry’s CIO, written by Sarah K. White. It focuses on DevColor, a fledgling career accelerator for Black technologists, and its CEO Rhonda Allen (pictured). “’Before DevColor I attended infrequent tech meetup events, typically with few Black people present,’” White writes about Brian Mariner. “’After a meetup, nothing kept me coming back to continue the dialogue,’ he says. At DevColor, and in the A* program in particular, Mariner was finally able to be in a room ‘surrounded by software industry peers’ and have the experience of ‘not being the other’ in the room.” DevColor’s State of Tech report found that 50% of Black tech workers don’t feel comfortable speaking up about inequities at work because it is “too risky for their career,” White reports. She navigates a tough subject with grace and solid reporting.

A podcast with impact. 2022 SIIA IMPACT Award winner Matt Ausloos finds himself a 2023 Neal Awards finalist for American Health Law Association’s Speaking of Health Law podcasts. Ausloos transformed a podcast which produced only 17 episodes in FY 2019 into a “robust content offering that releases two episodes per week on a regular schedule, totaling over 100 episodes in FY 2022, and driving thousands of dollars in podcast sponsorship revenue.” As producer, he does all the technical details, working with colleagues and myriad speakers to curate, record and edit high-quality content for a significant following. The podcasts vary in length from 25-45 minutes, based on the conversation. “I almost never edit the podcast for time because, to be frank, I don’t want to butcher the audio and make it sound unscripted,” Ausloos told me. “If people are listening and they’re ready to tune out, they’ll tune out anyway. But I like to just let the conversation go to its natural conclusion.”

Taking on a tough subject. Another Neal Awards podcast finalist is Podnosis from Questex’s Fierce Healthcare. I like the way they present it—starting with a descriptive headline: “Podnosis celebrates International Women’s Day: Post-Roe maternal health, and spurring diversity in healthcare leadership.” Next is a caption for the episode: “As of Jan. 9, 2023, 12 states are enforcing a near-total ban on abortion with very limited exceptions, but the U.S. already faces a maternal health crisis, faring worse in preventing pregnancy-related deaths than most other developed nations.” That leads into an intro for the guest—“Fierce’s Heather Landi spoke with Laurie Zephyrin, M.D., an OB-GYN specialist and health equity leader with the Commonwealth Fund, about the ripple effect of abortion bans. Then come eight links to learn more about the subject. The episode is sponsored by Unite Us. It’s a robust content offering.

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