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Editorial: Recognize Ohio University's Hearst winner Will Drabold by supporting investigative journalism

The longtime Post writer received first place in the Hearst Foundation’s enterprise reporting contest.

Late last week we heard that longtime Post contributor Will Drabold received one of the most prestigious honors a collegiate journalist can garner — first prize in the Hearst Foundation’s enterprise reporting contest.

We weren’t surprised. Drabold has, for five years now, reported articles for The Post that have illuminated university oversights, highlighted the struggles of Athens County’s poor and explained to students where their tuition money goes.

In short, we’ve been fortunate to have him. Now we’re seeing that readers throughout the country should feel fortunate to have him working for them, too.

Drabold’s winning story for The Seattle Times looked at 12 documented instances of state employees failing to protect children in the state welfare and foster care system. Of the 48 workers involved in those dozen cases, none was suspended, fired or demoted, and none lost pay.

The children in the cases were sexually abused and beaten, in addition to other atrocities workers should be punished for. We urge our readers to head over to and see it for themselves.

We asked Drabold for some thoughts on his Hearst prize, and this is, in part, what he told us via email:

“(Journalism) is about changing lives by explaining twisted, ugly truths that can make you feel dirty. But instead of turning away when they discover a troubling fact, journalists dig deeper into those problems.”

We agree. Investigative journalism is essential. It’s something we try to teach at The Post and hope our reporters go on to do in newsrooms after graduation, not only for the betterment of our student journalists or The Post’s brand, but also for all of society. For the underserved and underrepresented who need help and attention.

Further, we hope you, our readers, will invest your time and money toward reading and supporting this kind of work — whether it appears online, in a magazine or on newsstands on a college campus near you.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of The Post's executive editors: Editor-in-Chief Emma Ockerman, Managing Editor Rebekah Barnes and Digital Managing Editor Samuel Howard. Post editorials are independent of the publication's news coverage.

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