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Recent Awards

March, 2010

Kansas City Series Wins Honors from Investigative Reporters and Editors Group

The Kansas City Star was among the winners of the 2009 Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards announced March 29.

The Kansas City Star won in the large newspaper category for a series on human trafficking in America. Reporters Mike McGraw, Laura Bauer and Mark Morris conducted an exhaustive examination of the U.S. government's unfulfilled promise to stop the trafficking of illegal workers and underage girls sold into the sex trade in the United States.

The reporters found that, despite spending millions of tax dollars, the government's multi-agency effort is plagued by turf wars and poor coordination. In many cases, victims continued to suffer when they were denied services. Others, upon deportation, found themselves returning to the abusive conditions they'd fled, a direct violation of U.S. policy.

This year's winners, which included investigations that exposed failures of government regulation, abuse of military personnel, and failures of the criminal justice system, were selected from among more than 450 entries. The Kansas City Star was the only McClatchy newspaper to win an award in this year's competition. The News Tribune in Tacoma, Wash., and the Belleville News-Democrat were named as finalists in their respective circulation categories.

"In the weeks following the publication of (The Kansas City Star) series, the Obama Administration signed into law an additional $12.5 million for anti-human trafficking efforts," the judges wrote. "The chairwoman of the House subcommittee over detention and deportation policies stated she would use the Star's series during oversight hearings to highlight needed reforms."

The awards, given by Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc. since 1979, recognize the most outstanding watchdog journalism of the year. IRE is a nonprofit professional organization dedicated to training and supporting journalists who pursue investigative stories and operates the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting, a joint program of IRE and the Missouri School of Journalism.

The IRE Awards will be presented at a luncheon on Saturday, June 12, at the 2010 IRE Conference in Las Vegas.

See a full list of winners, finalists and judges' comments at

12 National Headliner Awards Go to McClatchy Papers

Six McClatchy newspapers have been honored with a combined total of 12 National Headliner Awards.

The Miami Herald, The Wichita Eagle and The Kansas City Star each received first-place honors in the annual contest, while the Belleville News-Democrat, The Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer scored second-place prizes.

The Kansas City Star and The Miami Herald each won multiple honors in the 76th year of the National Headliner Awards program, one of the oldest, largest and most prestigious journalism contests in the country. The awards are sponsored by the Press Club of Atlantic City, N.J.

The Miami Herald won first place in the news beat coverage/continuing coverage category for its series last year investigating the fiscal management of Miami-Dade County. The series by reporters Matthew Haggman, Jack Dolan and editor Ronnie Greene was dubbed "Dire budget, lavish spending" and contrasted official decisions to cut public programs and services while giving raises to staff and other questionable spending.

The Wichita Eagle won first place for "The Miracle of Father Kapaun," an eight-part series by reporter Roy Wenzl on the life of Kansas priest Emil Kapaun, a Korean War hero and candidate for sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church. The series, which ran in December 2009, was the winner in the news series category for newspapers with a daily circulation up to 75,000.

Kansas City Star illustrator Hector Casanova took first place in the illustrative graphics category, which was open to both newspapers and magazines.

Other McClatchy National Headliner winners include:

** Reporters George Pawlaczyk and Beth Hundsdorfer at the Belleville News-Democrat, second place in the news series category for papers with daily circulation up to 75,000. The pair won for "Trapped in Tamms," which detailed the abuse of prisoners, some of them mentally ill, at the Tamms Correctional Center in Illinois -- the state's only "supermax" prison.

** Jason Whitlock of The Kansas City Star, second place in the sports column category.

** Elizabeth Leland at The Charlotte Observer, second place in feature writing for a collection of feature stories.

** Michael Sallah, Rob Barry and Lucy Komisar at The Miami Herald, second place in business news coverage for their stories on indicted banker Allen Stanford.

** J. Andrew Curliss and the staff at The News & Observer in Raleigh, second place in investigative reporting for "Executive Privilege," which exposed the gift-and-favor atmosphere that permeated the North Carolina governorship of Mike Easley.

** John Sleezer at The Kansas City Star, second place in newspaper spot news photography.

** Keith Myers at The Kansas City Star, second place in photo portraits.

** David Eulitt at The Kansas City Star, third place in newspaper sports photography.

** Kent Babb at The Kansas City Star, third place in newspaper sports writing.

The complete list of 2010 National Headliner Awards winners is available here.

February, 2010

Belleville News-Democrat Wins George Polk Award

The Belleville News-Democrat has won the prestigious George Polk Award for its series "Trapped in Tamms."

The series detailed abuses of prisoners, some of them mentally ill, held in solitary confinement for more than 10 years at Illinois' only "supermax" prison. The award citation stated, "In the wake of the articles, Amnesty International pressed the governor to ease conditions at the prison, 48 inmates were selected for transfer, and reforms were proposed by the Illinois corrections department director."

The stories, published in 2009, were written by reporters George Pawlaczyk and Beth Hundsdorfer. The won in the category of Local Reporting.

The George Polk Awards, administered by Long Island University since 1949, honors the memory of George Polk, a CBS correspondent killed in 1948 while covering the civil war in Greece.

Past winners include: Seymour Hersh, Walter Cronkite, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, Edward R. Murrow, Ted Koppel and Christiane Amanpour.

For more information on the awards and a full list of 2009 recipients, visit

The awards will be presented during a ceremony April 8 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. Tom Brokaw of NBC News will announce the winners.

January, 2010

Raleigh Among Finalists for Harvard's Goldsmith Prize

The News & Observer's year-long investigation of former North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley has been named among six finalists for Harvard University's 2010 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.

Harvard's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government administers the award, which will be bestowed March 23 at a ceremony at Harvard University and comes with a $25,000 cash prize.

The press release announcing The News & Observer's selection among the finalists described The News & Observer's work as exposing "pay-to-play politics at its worst."

"Their reporting revealed how Easley accepted numerous unreported gifts from supporters in return for political influence and 'sweet deals.' The facts uncovered in this series launched state and federal criminal investigations, led to resignations and firings, exposed election law violations and spurred government reforms."

You can follow The News & Observer's ongoing coverage, titled "Executive Privilege" here and learn more about the prestigious Goldsmith Prize here.

Belleville Series on Supermax Prison Wins National Award

The Belleville News-Democrat has won a prestigious national journalism award -- the 2010 Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Award -- for its stories about the treatment of prisoners at the Tamms supermax prison, Illinois' only supermax facility.

The award is presented by the John Jay College for Criminal Justice at City University in New York.

The series, "Trapped in Tamms," by reporters George Pawlaczyk and Beth Hundsdorfer, won in the series division.

The contest, in its fifth year, carries a $1,000 award in each division.

A past winner, The Wall Street Journal, referred to the contest as the "Pulitzer Prize of criminal justice journalism." Other past winners include The Denver Post, Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the San Jose Mercury News.

The investigative series and follow-up stories reported that mentally ill inmates, including some incarcerated for relatively minor crimes, were held in solitary confinement for more than 10 years. The stories also outlined the difficulties faced by mentally ill prisoners in trying to conform to the supermax lockup's extreme discipline and isolation.

The articles led to reforms at the prison, which human rights advocates compared to the federal prison where terrorist suspects were held at Guantanamo.

"The winning entries demonstrate that even in an era of news industry cost-cutting, investigative and in-depth criminal justice journalism continues to be an important focus across the nation," said Stephen Handelman, director of John Jay's Center on Media, Crime and Justice. "We received a record number of entries this year from both large and small outlets."

The award will be presented Feb. 1 at a luncheon in conjunction with the fifth annual Harry Frank Guggenheim Symposium on criminal justice reform.

December, 2009

Miami, Tacoma Online Sports Sections Honored

The online sports sections produced by The Miami Herald and The News Tribune in Tacoma, Wash., are among the best in the industry, according to the Associated Press Sports Editors.

APSE, which has been judging and honoring the best newspaper sports sections and the best sports writing since 1981, this year took a critical look at the online sports sections of 100 different newspaper websites.

APSE named The Miami Herald's online sports efforts among the Top 10 in the nation for those online newspaper sports sections with more than 1 million unique visitors in a month. The News Tribune was among the Top 10 in the nation among online sports sections with fewer than 1 million unique visitors a month.

See the APSE press release here.

October, 2009

Miami Herald's 'Borrowers Betrayed' Series Honored

The Miami Herald's Jack Dolan, Matthew Haggman and Rob Barry won one of the nation's most prestigious business journalism awards Oct. 7 for revealing the state's failure to police Florida's troubled mortgage industry.

The reporters captured the gold medal in the Barlett & Steele Awards for Investigative Business Journalism for their 2008 series, "Borrowers Betrayed", showing that Florida regulators allowed thousands of people with criminal histories -- including armed robbers and racketeers -- to work in the mortgage industry since 2000. The series was edited by Investigations Editor Michael Sallah.

The award, presented by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University, comes with a $5,000 prize.

The four-part series showed that regulators failed to alert police to crooked mortgage brokerages and dropped investigations into shoddy operations while the state had the highest rate of mortgage fraud in the country.

"The Herald really nailed this investigation, uncovering a unique angle on the theme of the year,'' the judges said. "It found a staggering degree of nonfeasance on the part of the state, bringing perpetrators to life and showing the human impact of misdeeds.''

The reporters will be honored at a banquet on Jan. 6 at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Runners up for the award included Bloomberg Markets magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Seattle Times and ABA Journal.

McClatchy Guantanamo Probe Wins Online Honors

A McClatchy series about the Guantanamo Bay detention center, "Guantanamo: Beyond the Law," was declared the top investigative project among large websites by the Online News Association Oct. 3 in San Francisco during its annual convention.

The 2008 project, by reporters Tom Lasseter and Matthew Schofield, was based on interviews with 66 former Guantanamo detainees, who recounted how they were treated at Guantanamo and at the U.S. detention center at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Lasseter and Schofield traveled to eight countries over 11 months to research the stories.

The investigation of the detention system created after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks found that the U.S. imprisoned innocent men, subjected them to abuse, stripped them of their legal rights and allowed Islamic militants to turn the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba into a school for jihad.

The online project totaled more than 100,000 words and was published in full at, the website of the McClatchy Washington Bureau. It consisted of 12 stories that summarized the reporters' findings, 65 stories on the interviewed former prisoners and photographs and video by Travis Heying, a photographer with McClatchy's Wichita Eagle.

The internet presentation also included a searchable database and interactive graphics designed by McClatchy Interactive's staff in Raleigh N.C., graphics by the staff of McClatchy-Tribune Information Services and an archive of relevant documents. A shorter version was distributed as a five-day series to McClatchy's 30 newspapers.

The full project can be viewed at

August, 2009

Fresno Bee Reporter Earns National Honor

The Fresno Bee's E.J. Schultz won top honors for overall statehouse coverage from Capitolbeat, the national association of state capitol reporters and editors.

Schultz won first place for beat reporting among wire services and newspapers over 75,000 circulation. Also honored in that category were statehouse reporters from the Associated Press in California and Ohio, the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times.

Schultz has been The Fresno Bee's state Capitol bureau reporter since 2006. He joined the newspaper as a business reporter in 2004.

The awards were announced this month at the association's annual conference in Indianapolis.

Miami, Kansas City Honored with Black Journalists' Awards

The Miami Herald and The Kansas City Star both received awards from the National Association of Black Journalists Aug. 8 Tampa, Fla., at the group's annual convention.

Miami Herald Caribbean correspondent Jacqueline Charles was honored as the best international newspaper reporter for her 2008 coverage of Haiti, "A Trail of Grief."

Chalres, a 15-year veteran Miami Herald reporter was recognized for her compelling and comprehensive coverage of last year's series of tropical storms that devastated several cities throughout Haiti.

A Kansas City Star series about Kansas City's murderous August 2008 won the news series category for newspapers with circulation greater than 150,000. The two-day series, "Murder’s Big Month," beat out six other finalists –- including entries from The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune.

Kansas City Star reporters Chrstine Vendel, Lee Hill Kavanaugh and Malcom Garcia wrote the series, published in September 2008.

One article took readers along as detectives investigated cases. Others showed the effect the killings had on families that lost loved ones that August when the city saw a record 21 homicides. Nineteen of the victims were black.

The National Association of Black Journalists is one of the four major minority journalists associations holding national conventions this summer. The McClatchy Company is a corporate sponsor of each convention.

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