Wilson L. Sayre, a former reporter at WLRN Public Media, is 2018 recipient of the Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize. The annual $5,000 award, administered by WBUR and Boston University, recognizes an outstanding public radio journalist under age 35.
Sayre, 27, is a North Carolina native who came to WLRN in 2013 for a reporting fellowship. Her first project at the station involved working with a team to document the experiences of four people from Miami who participated in Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. A quick study, she was hired full-time in 2014 and carved out a beat covering poverty, criminal justice and the death penalty.
The winning entry for the Schorr prize was a documentary titled "Cell 1: Florida's Death Penalty In Limbo," in which Sayre spent three years reporting on the state's policies after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2016 put the death sentence on hold.
The seven-part documentary explores what being in limbo meant for the 384 people on Death Row in the state, their families and victims' families.
"Sayre put her exhaustive knowledge and hard-won access to extraordinary use in the highest form of journalistic public service," said Mitch Zuckoff, Boston University professor who was judge for the final entries. "She allowed room for the intelligence of her listeners, and also for their preconceived opinions, while fulfilling her goal to create a deeply informed public on a fraught, complex subject."
Sayre also won individually or shared national and regional awards from Radio Television Digital News Association; Public Radio News Directors Inc.; National Association of Black Journalists; National Association of Hispanic Journalists; Florida Associated Press Broadcasters; and Society of Professional Journalists. She left WLRN in January to work on a podcast project.