The York Daily Record/Sunday News is the 2011 recipient of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association (PNA) Foundation’s Public Service Award.
The Public Service Award recognizes a newspaper that has made a significant contribution to the betterment of its community through public service leadership. Entries are judged by how well the newspaper went beyond the scope of its normal routine, the initiative and activities of the newspaper, and the initiative’s results.
The York Daily Record/Sunday News won this award with its entry, “Fat Battleground – Obesity in York County.” After finding out that York was one of the fattest communities in the United States, the York Daily Record/Sunday News decided to do something about it. The series “Fat Battleground” began by examining the unseen and overlooked costs of obesity. The series continued as the paper explored emotions, the culture of food and the science of the ever-expanding waist-line. Additionally, the staff created a 13-minute documentary that shared the story of Dave and Darlene Lookingbill, a couple that decided that it was time for a change and, despite the risks, took the initiative to get healthy.
The coverage spawned a grassroots movement within the community. Four York County residents put together the “The Big Walk” at a local park. This event challenged people to commit to losing weight and encouraged participants to become more active. The staff also started a blog hosted on The York Daily Record/Sunday News’ blog site to encourage healthy eating and exercise.
Judges said, “The paper did an outstanding job identifying the problem (two out of three York County residents are obese) and offering solutions to get the community motivated to do something about the overweight problem. They addressed health issues and the high medical costs such as joint replacements needed because of obesity.”
The Public Service Award will be presented Nov. 11, 2011, during the PNA Annual Convention at the Omni Bedford Springs Resort in Bedford, Pa.
The PNA Foundation, established in 1967, is a tax-exempt, nonprofit corporation under IRS code 501(c)(3). Its mission is to improve newspapers through education and training programs and to develop a better understanding in the public and private sectors about the role of newspapers.