The Salt Lake Tribune, KUER and APM Reports win top honors for ‘Sent Away’ podcast

The series was praised as ‘an extraordinary piece of investigative reporting.’

The Salt Lake Tribune and its partners at KUER and APM Reports received top honors from the National Center for Business Journalism for their podcast about allegations of abuse at children’s residential treatment centers in Utah.

The seven-part podcast “Sent Away” — which has been downloaded nearly 2 million times — is “an extraordinary piece of investigative reporting that demonstrates the power of podcast journalism at its best,” according to the judges of the 16th annual Barlett & Steele Awards. The podcast won the gold medal in the global/national category.

Reporters at The Tribune, KUER and APM Reports had been investigating the teen treatment industry separately in recent years. Tribune reporter Jessica Miller had been digging into Utah’s youth residential treatment industry for three years, and her reporting directly led to a law passed in 2021 that brought the first reform of oversight of this industry in 15 years.

In 2021, Miller joined forces with KUER’s David Fuchs, along with Curtis Gilbert and Will Craft from APM Reports, and together they spent more than a year digging into documents, analyzing data and interviewing hundreds of people for the podcast.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Tribune reporter Jessica Miller, one of the hosts of the "Sent Away" podcast, participates in a question-and-answer forum at the University of Utah, Thursday, April 28, 2022.

“‘Sent Away’ shows the power of collaboration,” Miller said. “Rather than competing with one another, our nonprofit organizations teamed up and worked together to deeply investigate an industry that has not received much scrutiny in recent years, despite persisting allegations of abuse and mistreatment. This kind of impactful work would have been difficult to achieve individually, but was possible because of our partnership.”

KUER news director Elaine Clark said the award is “evidence of the work that can be done through smart collaboration. Every partner brought unique expertise to the table to create a whole greater than the sum of the parts.”

And Miller praised those who came forward to share their experiences.

“We couldn’t have done this project without the voices of so many who trusted us to tell their stories,” she said. “It’s an honor to have that work recognized by the Barlett & Steele judges.”

The awards, hosted by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University, are named for investigative reporters Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele, two-time Pulitzer Prize winners whose work has appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Time, Vanity Fair, The New York Times and The Washington Post.