Sun Herald wins big awards for investigative series and podcast

The Sun Herald has earned two major awards for its work in 2017.

On Saturday, the Associated Press Media Editors for Louisiana and Mississippi announced Margaret Baker's investigative series called "Diagnosis: Death" won first place in the Investigative/Public Service category.

And Monday, Sun Herald parent company McClatchy announced Justin Mitchell's podcast "Out Here in America" won an annual President's Award.

Baker's series chronicled a rare brain cancer called DIPG that has been killing children on the Mississippi Coast. She followed one case in particular, Sophia Myers, whose story captured the hearts of readers.

Baker began investigating the number of DIPG cases in the Ocean Springs area after Sophia, 7, became the third child to suffer from the disease in a 25-mile radius in eight years. She spent months with the family from the time of her diagnosis in February until after her death in October.

The series prompted an ongoing state investigation to determine if environmental factors affected the number of cases, and the state has since formed a Rare Advisory Council to shed light on rare diseases. And Baker's reporting continues pending the results of a public information request to review toxins at industries and businesses in the highly-industrialized communities on the Coast.

The "Out Here in America" podcast sheds light on fascinating LGBTQ people in the Deep South and their struggles, telling the stories of those whose voices aren’t always heard. It's hosted by Mitchell, and produced by the Sun Herald's Amanda McCoy and McClatchy.

The second season recently premiered with an interview with Part-Time Justin from the Kidd Kraddick Morning Show. The second episode was released Monday with the story of Mississippi trans woman Kimberly "Richard" Davis who kept her sexual identity secret for 50 years.

While the first season focused on people living in rural areas or small towns, new episodes of “OHIA” will feature people living both in small towns and metropolitan areas like New York, New Orleans, Southern California and beyond.

The Sun Herald has previously won President's Awards for "Fostering Secrets," "Katrina + 10" and the investigation of the Department of Marine Resources.