The Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service has won a regional Edward R. Murrow Award from RTDNA for Allison Dikanovic’s special report, “A Crime Hidden in Plain Sight: Human Trafficking in Milwaukee.” The two-part series ran on Feb. 29 and March 1, 2016.
The Radio Television Digital News Association has been honoring outstanding achievements in journalism with the Edward R. Murrow Awards since 1971. The NNS website won an Edward R. Murrow regional award for excellence in 2012.
Dikanovic’s report on human trafficking was entered in RTDNA’s “small digital news category,” defined as fewer than 5 million unique visitors per month. The region comprises Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. All regional award winners automatically advance to the national Murrow competition.
Dikanovic, who produced the series when she was an intern at NNS, devoted months to reporting the multimedia series about human trafficking in Milwaukee, which repeatedly ranks among U.S. cities with the highest rates of participation in the sex trade.
Talking to law enforcement officials, experts, advocates and sex trafficking victims, Dikanovic described how the weight of the law falls disproportionately on those who sell in the sex trade, as opposed to those who buy. Although the crimes of prostitution and human trafficking are vastly underreported, statistics show that buyers are almost never prosecuted. Experts quoted in the story said that “demand-focused” approaches in cities such as San Francisco and Jersey City reduced the size of sex trafficking markets by 40 to 80 percent.
Dikanovic gained the trust of former sex trafficking victims, who told their harrowing stories on videotape. The series also detailed how these survivors have banded together to raise awareness and find solutions. They’ve inspired a community-wide effort to help other survivors and encourage government officials to broaden the services available to sex-trade workers.
The series was one of the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service’s top three most-viewed stories to date, with more than 16,000 page views. NPR also shared the story on Facebook.
In addition to the Murrow award, Dikanovic received the Rev. Andrew J. Thon, S.J. Award for Leadership by Marquette University on April 23. The award, the highest honor presented by the Marquette Division of Student Affairs, honors a graduating senior for leadership contributions during his or her undergraduate career. Throughout college, Dikanovic has volunteered for Midnight Run, a student organization that advocates for people experiencing hunger and homelessness. Last summer she initiated Youth Rise MKE, a web publication produced by teens participating in Urban Underground.
Dikanovic also is the recipient of the Jack Keating Student Civic Leadership Award presented by Wisconsin Campus Compact (WiCC), which recognizes students who have taken a leadership role in creating change in their community. The award was presented on April 6 in Green Bay.