Eight President's Awards Honor Excellence by McClatchy Journalists
The Fresno Bee won two McClatchy Presidents Awards for work that appeared in the first half of 2008, and six other prizes also were awarded by judges this week in Sacramento.
The Fresno Bee was honored for two very different efforts: tour de force coverage, in print and online, of the surprising Fresno State baseball teams run to victory in the College World Series; and for deep and nuanced coverage of the birth centennial of native son William Saroyan including the first ever publication of a previously unknown novella.
Also selected for the award was an extensive international examination of abuses at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba produced by staffers at the McClatchy Washington Bureau and a Wichita Eagle photographer. North Carolinas two leading newspapers also won awards, each for exacting investigation. The News & Observer in Raleigh detailed hundreds of millions in waste by a state mental health reform, while The Charlotte Observer exposed abuses involving some 20,000 workers in the states poultry industry. Coverage of extensive storm and tornado damage in Middle Georgia, drawing on an all-hands effort that began just moments after the Mothers Day event, won for The Telegraph in Macon.
Interactive projects at the Anchorage Daily News and The Miami Herald each were cited. In Anchorage, the winner was a package of interactive features that augmented coverage of the 2008 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race; Miamis prize recognizes a featured called 60 Seconds, in which well-produced video portraits tell the stories of diverse Miami residents in a minute each.
McClatchy Vice President, News, Howard Weaver was joined by two journalists from outside the company in reviewing entries. They were Mike Hill, a veteran foreign correspondent, columnist and writer from The Baltimore Sun, and David Boardman, executive editor of The Seattle Times.
Internet links to the winning projects and a compilation of judges comments follow.
The Fresno Bee
College World Series Coverage
The College World Series, held in Omaha, Neb., each year, is not a magnet for big-time sports media. But the coverage of the 2008 series by The Fresno Bee was major-league in every regard. The Bees hometown team, the Fresno State Bulldogs, was a huge underdog going into the first round of the eight-team tournament and given little chance to win it all. But win it they did, and the Bee was with them every step of the way.
In 32 days of coverage in print and online, the newspaper gave the folks back home coverage that was fun, informative, comprehensive and engaging. It encompassed everything from live, in-game blogs to 18-page special sections, from real-time videos to artfully crafted columns.
This was a spectacular demonstration of commitment of resources to a story that captured a community, made all the more impressive by the agility and flexibility demanded by the day-to-day uncertainty of the team progressing to another round. The Bee was central in Fresnos ability to follow and ultimately celebrate this unlikely triumph.
The Fresno Bee
William Saroyan Centennial Project
The Fresno Bee took a chance when it decided to devote hundreds of column inches over an entire month to mark the centenary of its most famous literary citizen, William Saroyan. It turned out to be a chance worth taking as this imaginative package not only gave readers a previously unpublished story by the prize-winning author, but also essentially told the story of Fresno's last 100 years as it put the story of Saroyan's life and work in context. It was an affectionate yet unfiltered look at Fresno that used vintage photographs for additional dimension. Adding to its impact was Saroyan's amazing personal story that took him from struggling young author to relatively brief cultural superstardom in places like New York and Paris, and, eventually, back to Fresno as a local eccentric character. In committing itself to this Saroyan package and executing it so well, The Fresno Bee gave its readers something they could not find anywhere else, something substantial and important that demonstrated the importance of the unique relationship between a newspaper and its community.
McClatchy Washington Bureau
"Guantanamo: Beyond the Law"
Foreign Correspondents Tom Lasseter and Matt Schofield; Wichita Eagle Photographer Travis Heying
For seven years, the United States government has imprisoned hundreds of men at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba men it says are "the worst of the worst" of those suspected of committing or plotting terrorism against this country. Over those years, doubts have arisen about the validity of the governments claims and whether those inside the Guantanamo base really were significant terrorists, or terrorists at all.
But not until the McClatchy Washington Bureau sent its reporters and a Wichita Eagle photographer across the globe to interview 66 former detainees did those doubts take the form of journalistically sound conclusions. In what a New York Times columnist called a devastating series, the bureau established that among the detainees were many men who were of little or no intelligence value and represented no threat to the United States. Some had actually been working for the pro-U.S. Afghan government, not against it. And many who were not Islamic fundamentalists when they arrived at the prison were converted into militants after years of abuse.
These journalists overcame innumerable obstacles in telling a story of the most profound significance. The reporting and writing were first-rate, but the courage and ingenuity behind the articles are what made this a truly historic piece of journalism.
Anchorage Daily News
Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Coverage
The Iditarod has been a staple of coverage for the Anchorage Daily News for decades. To augment coverage of the 2008 race, the newspaper made use of its website to give interested people around the world the most complete coverage available anywhere. That coverage made perfect use of the medium, offering users an interactive trail map that allowed them to click on checkpoints to both track the racers progress and to see photos of that point on the trail; a Musher Leader Board with a Flash-based gallery of all 96 racers, with their biographies and race histories; videos; audio slide shows; graphics, and superbly written stories. This all added up to a package with a strong sense of place, a mantle of authority and expertise, and an excitement reflective of this unique event.
The Charlotte Observer
"The Cruelest Cuts"
As with so many great investigative series, The Charlotte Observer's The Cruelest Cuts works on many levels from the personal narratives of the many afflicted with crippling injuries while bringing chicken and turkey to Americas supermarkets, to tales of corporate malfeasance as a giant of this industry sought to cover up its workers woes for its own benefit, to stories of inept government regulation that endangered the health of these workers. Looking into the practices of poultry giant House of Raeford, the Observer showed that workers endure the types of conditions that Upton Sinclair uncovered a century ago in the nation's meatpacking plants. That many of its workers are illegal immigrants does not seem an accident as it helps ensure not only that they will work for low salaries, but also that they will not complain to authorities if the company mistreats them. Telling this story required reporters Kerry Hall, Ames Alexander, Franco Ordonez and Peter St. Onge to pore over reams of documents from state and federal agencies as well as interview more than 200 current and former workers. John Simmons' photographs added immensely to the impact as did a strong online presence. The result was a compelling and important series that illustrated the hidden costs behind the food on our dinner tables.
The Miami Herald
Videographer Poh Si Teng; Designer/Programmer Stephanie Rosenblatt; Multimedia Video Manager Karen Burkett
The Miami Heralds 60 Seconds video feature is a highly successful combination of traditional journalistic forms with contemporary journalistic sensibility. Each brief video segment is a small personality profile drawn from Miamis hugely varied demographic profile. Though each minute-long story is told in the subjects own words, their selection, videography and editing give journalistic shape to a feature that, taken altogether, is far greater than some of its 60-seconds parts.
The (Macon) Telegraph
Picking Up the Pieces
When Mothers Day storms and tornadoes swept through Middle Georgia in May, The Telegraph in Macon marshaled all its journalistic resources to respond. Over the first week following the destruction, most members of the staff were directly involved in the effort. Starting within an hour of the storms onset early on Sunday morning, the paper turned to its digital assets to help spread the news, using macon.com to post breaking news, photo galleries from staff and readers, and video reporting.
The (Raleigh) News & Observer
The News & Observers opening paragraph painted a stark picture with these words: North Carolinas mental-health reform was supposed to improve treatment for the mentally ill and provide good value for taxpayers. It did neither. The papers five-part investigative series and extensive multimedia report showed that hundreds of millions of dollars had been wasted and dozens of patients deaths called into question in a broad, systemic failure. Months of work and 16 staffers were involved in the project, which yielded immediate results. The state mental health director was forced to resign as the series neared publication, and further audits and investigations have been launched.
The McClatchy Company is the third largest newspaper company in the United States, with 30 daily newspapers, approximately 50 non-dailies, and direct marketing and direct mail operations. McClatchy also operates leading local websites in each of its markets which extend its audience reach. The websites offer users comprehensive news and information, advertising, e-commerce and other services. Together with its newspapers and direct marketing products, these interactive operations make McClatchy the leading local media company in each of its premium high growth markets. McClatchy-owned newspapers include The Miami Herald, The Sacramento Bee, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Kansas City Star, The Charlotte Observer, and The (Raleigh) News & Observer.
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