March 20, 2024

K-12 Dive's investigation recognized among the best in business journalism

For the first time, the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW) has recognized Industry Dive in their Best in Business Awards: K-12 Dive’s investigation into how U.S. schools are handling sexual assault cases received an Honorable Mention for the Investigative category in the small newsroom division.

SABEW, the world’s largest and oldest organization of business and financial journalists, launched the Best in Business competition in 1995 to recognize excellence in the industry. The 2023 Best in Business Awards attracted 1,103 entries from 181 news organizations, ranging from international, national and regional news outlets to specialized business publications. Winners from this year’s competition include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and The Washington Post.

The judges shared their perspective on K-12 Dive’s story: “An excellent report on a shocking weakness in the protections for children in the U.S. education system. The stories are presented in clearly reported text and highlight the urgency of the issue with straight newswriting. This is the type of report that should spur action by officials on a number of levels and in multiple jurisdictions.”In reporting the story, K-12 Dive Senior Reporter Naaz Modan uncovered a pattern in the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights investigation records: School districts consistently brush off their civil rights obligations to protect students involved in sexual assault or harassment cases.

Title IX, the federal law that protects students against sex discrimination in federally funded education programs, gives schools specific criteria to manage these scenarios, but Modan found schools do not always comply.

Modan’s article exemplifies solid reporting and innovative storytelling. She analyzed court documents, police records, school district correspondence and sworn statements. Her interviews with Catherine Lhamon, the department’s assistant secretary for civil rights, Title IX lawyers, and student sexual assault survivors explained how this affects students and schools long term. Modan wrote the article using the story of “Camille” from one of the cases to humanize what her findings meant.

News Graphics Developer Julia Himmel worked with Modan on the modern “scrolly-telling” design. Modan selected the opening quotes that appear on screen, and Himmel created a timeline that expands as time passes in the story and a graphic illustration to help readers understand the prevalence of this issue.

Sexual assault groups praised the piece and a key Education Department source told Modan it was “so good and so powerful” and that it documented a long-standing problem that has flown under the radar.

“Anyone who has read the K-12 Dive story knows how powerful, chilling and important it is,” said Davide Savenije, editor-in-chief at Industry Dive. “We’re honored and humbled to have the business journalism community recognize it as one of the very best stories published in our entire field last year.”


K-12 Dive is a leading publication operated by Industry Dive. K-12 Dive provides in-depth journalism and insight into the most impactful news and trends shaping K-12 education. The newsletters and website cover topics such as leadership, school models, technology, curriculum, professional development and more. Industry Dive, an Informa business, is a leading business journalism company. Over 15 million decision-makers across 20+ competitive industries rely on our exclusive insight and analysis delivered through more than 30 publications.