The annual President's Awards are the highest employee honors given by The McClatchy Company. Judging the competition this year were Nancy Barnes, executive editor of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis; Jan Schaffer, head of J-Lab at the American University in Washington, D.C., and Anders Gyllenhaal, McClatchy's vice president for news and Washington editor.
Here are the judges' comments and internet links, where available, to the winning entries:
Anchorage Daily News
Anchorage's Iditarod coverage is a great example of two achievements: How to make the most of digital storytelling and how to breathe life into an annual event that's been going for decades. A terrific blend of visuals and reporting, the coverage pulled together stories, maps, videos and photos with equal emphasis in print and online. One measure of a newspaper's spirit is how it covers the events that define the community. Nobody did it better this past year than the Anchorage Daily News.
Centre Daily Times
Penn State Scandal
The Centre Daily Times faced enormous challenges with the Penn State scandal that has drawn the attention of the country since November. With a small staff working nearly around the clock for weeks, the Times put out sweeping, compelling coverage of the startling events that reshaped State College. The Centre Daily Times did not break all the news on this story, but found ways to capture every angle of a waterfall of emotions that swept over this town. "It's hard to overstate what it took for a paper and staff this size to deliver the kind of big-city coverage they did day after day," the judges said.
The Charlotte Observer
North Carolina Auto Inspections Failing the Test
Fred Clasen-Kelly, reporter; Gavin Off, reporter; David Raynor, database reporter; Doug Miller, assistant metro editor
The Charlotte Observer's auto inspection story takes on a subject that touches readers where it counts behind the steering wheel. Every year, car owners in North Carolina must take vehicles to private garages for state-mandated safety and emissions testing. The Observer's four-part series "Failing the Test" found a sprawling government program full of problems with little evidence of improving highway safety. "This is the kind of watchdog work that affects just about everybody," the judges said. The series made the case so convincingly that it led to immediate response from lawmakers. And it presented its case in print and online in a way that readers could look up how their local inspection stations stacked up. The data was breathtaking and almost certainly will force much needed improvements.
FOI Exclusives University of South Carolina and Gov. Nikki Haley
Reporters Wayne Washington and Gina Smith
Using Freedom of Information requests like surgeons, the staff of The State delivered story after story about the inside workings of two powerful institutions the University of South Carolina and the state's new governor, Nikki Haley. The relentless reporting helped readers better understand these institutions, held them accountable and got results. The stories so riled Gov. Nikki Haley that she tried to deny access to her e-mails as if covering up the tracks would solve the problem. But once again, a little sunlight served as a disinfectant and she had to change her course. "It's hard to imagine a better use of Freedom of Information laws than we saw on these stories from The State," the judges said.
El Nuevo Herald
En estado crítico la salud de Chávez
Gadafi busca a Chávez para romper bloqueo
Chávez anfitrión de cumbre terrorista
El monopolio cubano en Venezuela de los controles de identidad electrónicos
Cónsul en Miami es agente de inteligencia
Chávez reparte $1,500 millones a Cuba y al Alba
Antonio Maria Delgado, reporter
Persona non grata in his homeland, and the country he covers, El Nuevo Herald's Antonio Maria Delgado nonetheless delivered one exclusive story after another this past year on Venezuela, a topic of intense interest to El Nuevo readers. His stories ranged from breaking the news on Hugo Chavezs secretive cancer treatment to his reports that the Libyan government wanted to turn its oil tankers over to Venezuela, revelations that led the deal to fall apart. Delgado produced his stories despite repeated warnings from high-level sources in the government telling him not to travel to Caracas. Antonios work is extraordinary on several fronts, but above all shows the power of developing sources on your beat under the most difficult of circumstances, the judges said.
The Kansas City Star
The Joplin Tornado
The Kansas City Star's coverage of the Joplin tornado the most powerful single tornado in the past 50 years put readers at the center of the storm with a comprehensive and sensitive report that was so detailed and powerful that it made you feel as if you were there. With stunning photography, full narratives and a massive reporting effort, the Star not only reported the news, but captured events, explained the phenomenon and traced the narratives of countless individuals. Then it assembled the work into a book to make sure this story is preserved forever. We felt like we came to know these people and this town through the pages of the newspaper," the judges said.
The Miami Herald
Neglected to Death
Reporters Michael Sallah, Carol Marbin Miller and Rob Barry
This 18-month investigation into the deplorable and dangerous state of Florida's assisted living facilities will change the course of events in Florida and almost certainly save the lives of some of the state's most fragile residents. Uncovering evidence that will likely lead to criminal convictions, the paper forced the state to take action it should have a long time ago. On several fronts, including investigative reporting and project storytelling, "Neglected to Death" is the best of class.
The Modesto Bee
Reporters J.N. Sbranti and Ken Carlson
At a time when the nation is still in the midst of the housing debacle, The Modesto Bee tells the story of a brazen betrayal of the public trust: Federal funds meant to help low-income, sick and homeless residents with housing and support services were instead lining the pockets of the directors of a local nonprofit housing agency. The reporters pried loose story after story until the coverage developed momentum that led to an FBI investigation and a number of changes by the city.
The Sacramento Bee
Girl with 100 Scars
Marjie Lundstrom, reporter; Manny Crisostomo, photographer
Marjie Lundstroms series on Lilly Manning begins as a horror story of unspeakable dimensions, but ends up as a tale of triumph and recovery. Along the way, the stories uncover shortcomings of social services that visited girls home 11 separate times without discovering the abuse taking place under the roof of this troubled home. The work is a tribute to the remarkable young girl at the center of this story and also to the power of storytelling in the hands of true veterans.
McClatchy Washington Bureau
Roy Gutman, Baghdad bureau chief; Hannah Allam, Cairo bureau chief; Shashank Bengali, foreign correspondent; Nancy A. Youssef, Pentagon correspondent
The Arab Spring, the most far-reaching story of the year, was also one of the most complicated to cover well, with layer upon layer of forces at work across the Mideast. From the time the first protests erupted through the conflict in Libya, McClatchy's foreign staff delivered a series of astute, elegantly written stories that reflected their collective decades of covering this region. "This is where we found some of the best writing of the year," the judges said. "You couldn't put these stories down."
The McClatchy President's Awards this year are awarding two special prizes for innovation and entrepreneurship:
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
As part of the papers print redesign this past year, the Star-Telegram developed a new feature that mines the newsrooms digital coverage and social media exchanges each day to build a rich, informative and entertaining Page 2 called News Feed that makes the most of the multimedia operations that our newsrooms are becoming. Its a magnificent effort that every newsroom should consider incorporating into their newspapers.
The Idaho Statesman saw an opportunity to create a new kind of business magazine at a time when new products were hard to come by. By first listening to the regions business community, and then pulling together a determined team of editors, writers and sales staff, the Business Insider found a way to achieve editorial and financial success from the start. As the magazine celebrates its one-year anniversary, other papers should look at this high-end, top-quality weekly as a model.