We’re happy to announce our former senior reporter Joey Peters won first place in Continuing Coverage or Unfolding News category in the National Federation of Press Women 2017 Communications Contest. The award recognizes his coverage of the ongoing SNAP scandal at the state Human Services Department.
Peters wrote more than two dozen stories about the New Mexico Human Services Department’s trouble following federal law on emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program applications. He broke news of state workers testifying in federal court they were told to change applications by adding fake funds, which gave the state more time to process the applications. This meant that those who sought emergency funding to feed their families had to wait to learn whether they’d receive funding food.
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A judge eventually appointed a special master to oversee the program in the state and held HSD Secretary Brent Earnest in contempt of court over the agency’s actions.
At NM Political Report, Peters covered this through federal court hearings in two cities and interviews with those affected by the state’s failure to follow the law on the funds. In some cases, NM Political Report was the only news outlet to follow the court proceedings.
Peters led the coverage, even when the state department refused to to comment on proceedings or he had to travel hundreds of miles of travel.
His national award is addition to the five awards we won in the New Mexico Press Women Communications Contest, including three first place awards in the “News Story-Online Publication” and “Green/Environmental” categories.