By: E&P Staff
Michael Powell has won the Sidney award for the month of May, for his New York Times story “Blacks in Memphis Lose Decades of Economic Gains,” a portrait of the recession’s devastating effects on Memphis’ black community.
The Sidney Award is bestowed monthly by the Sidney Hillman Foundation to recognize outstanding pieces of socially conscious journalism.
Among Powell’s findings: Black unemployment in Memphis has risen to 16.9%, up from 9% in 2008 (as opposed to 5.3% for whites); and the overall local foreclosure rate in Memphis is roughly twice the national average.
“Powell has done a brilliant job of putting a human face on the wreckage caused by the most severe recession in America since the Great Depression,” Sidney Award judge Charles Kaiser said in a statement. “His severe indictment of American banking practices includes details of how black neighborhoods were targeted for the most expensive mortgages–even when their recipients qualified for cheaper ones, which would have brought the banks smaller profits.”
Powell, a metro reporter for the Times since 2007, was part of the team that won the 2009 Pulitzer for Breaking News for its coverage of the Gov. Eliot Spitzer sex scandal. Before joining the Times, he was a reporter for The Washington Post.