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March, 2009

Decade of Dominance for Kansas City Sports Section

Nothing in the sports journalism world has been quite as consistent as Kansas City Star columnist Joe Posnanski winning national awards.

Posnanski has been honored in nearly every writing category of the Associated Press Sports Editors contest over the last decade. Last month, Posnanski was recognized again as one of the nation's best sports columnists -- his eighth consecutive year in the Top 10.

The final rankings will be announced in April; Posnanski has won first place twice.

In APSE section judging, The Kansas City Star's "Sports Daily" continued its tradition of excellence by placing two out of three sections (daily and special) in the Top 10.

The Sunday section received honorable mention. Over the last 10 years, competing against the biggest sports sections in the nation, the Star has claimed a stunning 23 out of 30 section Top 10s. That national "winning percentage" places Sports Daily among the top five for most decorated large-circulation sports sections over that span of time.

Sports Daily writers also won two other Top 10 awards last month: Bill Reiter for explanatory journalism; and a team of Blair Kerkhoff, Brady McCollough, Jason Whitlock, Reiter and Posnanski for project reporting.

It is the sixth straight showing in projects for the Star.


Charlotte Observer Wins Taylor Family Award

A Charlotte Observer investigation into the multibillion dollar poultry industry -- including N.C.-based House of Raeford Farms -- has been awarded the Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Newspapers.

The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, which administers the Taylor Award, announced the honor March 16 for "The Cruelest Cuts," reported by Ames Alexander, Kerry Hall, Franco Ordoñez and Peter St. Onge.

The investigation, which also was produced by more than a dozen editors, photographers and designers, told readers how House of Raeford Farms hid injuries from federal regulators, blocked injured workers from seeing doctors and hauled others to work hours after surgery for broken bones and severed fingers.

"The Charlotte Observer's 'Cruelest Cuts' gives a voice to people who are rarely afforded one, and helped foster greater safety in an industry known for its unsafe and unsavory working conditions,” said Taylor Award judge Christine Chinlund. "The series opened with strong assertions but managed to support each one with facts and solid reporting. It did so even as it provided ample room for company response."

Said judge Howard Witt: "This is a path-breaking series in the realm of fairness in journalism because it demonstrates why fairness is not merely an obligatory journalistic rule but a living, breathing value that, rigorously pursued, can make a story infinitely richer and more insightful."

The Taylor Award program was established through an endowment by members of the Taylor family, who published The Boston Globe from 1872 to 1999. The Charlotte Observer will receive the award April 16 in Cambridge, Mass.


Miami Herald Wins National Journalism Award

The Miami Herald's 2008 investigation into the Florida mortgage crisis has been awarded the Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Award for investigative reporting, one of the most prestigious prizes in all of journalism.

Miami Herald reporters Rob Barry, Jack Dolan and Matthew Haggman will formally receive the $25,000 Ursula and Gilbert Farfel prize April 24 during an awards ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The journalists teamed up on The Miami Herald's three-part series "Borrowers Betrayed," which revealed that weak state regulations in Florida allowed thousands with criminal histories to peddle home loans -- costing consumers millions. The series led to changes in state laws, policies and personnel.

"At a time when the journalism profession is undergoing tremendous change, it's reassuring to see so much outstanding work by its practitioners," said Mike Philips, Scripps Howard Foundation president in the March 13 press release announcing the 2008 award winners.

McClatchy Moscow Bureau Chief Tom Lasseter was a finalist in the investigative reporting category for his work last year on "Guantanamo: Beyond the Law," an eight-month investigation into the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention camp published by the McClatchy Washington Bureau.

Sacramento Bee reporter Tom Knudson was also named a finalist in the environmental reporting category for "Sierra Warming," a look into climate change and its impact on the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

The complete list of award winners and finalists is available at the Scripps Howard Foundation website.


Miami Herald Awarded Education Reporting Prize

Coverage of a melee at a local high school last year earned three Miami Herald reporters the top prize for "Breaking or Hard News" in the 2008 National Awards for Education Reporting.

The Education Writers Association, the national professional association of education reporters and writers, this week announced the 2008 winners of its prestigious annual awards contest.

Miami Herald reporters Kathleen McGrory, Tenton Daniel and David Ovalle received the top prize in the breaking or hard news category for newspapers with more than 100,000 circulation for their coverage of a February 2008 protest by students at Miami Edison Senior High School that turned violent with dozens of police cars responding to the campus brawl and more than two dozen students arrested.




February, 2009

McClatchy Papers Win AP Sports Editors' 'Triple Crown'

The Bellingham Herald's sports section and the combined sports section of The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet were named among the best in the nation for their size and recognized Feb. 25 with the "Triple Crown" distinction from the Associated Press Sports Editors' annual competition.

Those sports sections won top 10 honors for daily, Sunday and special sections in their respective circulation categories. They were among 11 McClatchy newspapers honored in the annual competition for sports sections and writing.

Other McClatchy papers receiving awards or honorable mentions were: The Wichita Eagle, the Idaho Statesman, The Kansas City Star, The News Tribune, the Lexington Herald-Leader, The Fresno Bee, The State and The Charlotte Observer.

The APSE includes member newspapers from across the United States and Canada. It conducts annual writing and section contests among sports departments of similar circulations.

The Beaufort Gazette-Island Packet sports section won the Triple Crown in the newly formed 20,000-and-under circulation category and narrowly missed the same honor in the 40,000-and-under competition. The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet sports departments were combined in July and the newspapers were allowed to place a single entry in the 20,000-and-under competition since the merger occurred halfway through the year and compete under The Island Packet name in the 40,000-and-under division.

The results marked the first-ever awards for The Beaufort Gazette in the national contest. The Island Packet has won more than 20 APSE section and writing awards since 2000. The Beaufort Gazette-Island Packet sports section also won four writing awards in the contest, three of which went to assistant sports editor Justin Jarrett in the best individual showing in the history of either paper.

APSE, in an attempt to honor more small-circulation newspapers, started a 20,000-and-under section competition for work published in 2008, and The Beaufort Gazette-Island Packet finished in the top 10 in all three sports section categories – daily, Sunday and special sections. The combined section placed in the top 10 in the Sunday and special sections category in the 40,000-and-under division, but missed the cut among daily sections, finishing out of the top 10 with an honorable mention.

Barring a dramatic change in circulation of The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet, their combined sports section will continue to compete in the 40,000-and-under division but will not be eligible for the 20,000-and-under competition next year.

The Bellingham Herald newspaper in Washington won the APSE Triple Crown competing in the 40,000-and-under division.

Other McClatchy winners include:

** The State of Columbia, S.C., which was named among the 10 best daily and Sunday sports sections in the country for newspapers with circulations from 40,000 to 100,000. The Idaho Statesman received honorable mention in both categories in addition to honorable mention in the special sections category.

** The Wichita Eagle, which was named among the 10 best Sunday sports sections in the country for newspapers with circulations between 40,000 to 100,000. The Eagle received honorable mention in the special sections category.

** The Charlotte Observer and The News Tribune, which were named among the 10 best daily sports sections in the country for newspapers with circulations from 100,000 to 250,000. The Observer also was named among the 10 best Sunday sports sections in the nation for its size and received an honorable mention in the special sections category.

** The Kansas City Star and The Miami Herald, which were named among the 10 best daily sports sections in the nation among newspapers with circulations of 250,000 and above. The Kansas City Star was named among the 10 best for special sections and The Miami Herald was named among the 10 best for Sunday sections.


Charlotte Investigation Wins National Honor

A Charlotte Observer investigation into the multibillion-dollar poultry industry has received one of the country's most prestigious awards from the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

The ASNE announced Feb. 22 that "The Cruelest Cuts" -- reported by staffers Ames Alexander, Kerry Hall, Franco Ordoñez, Ted Mellnik and Peter St. Onge -- took first place in the Local Accountability Reporting category.

"The Cruelest Cuts" -- which also was produced by more than a dozen editors, photographers, designers and others – told readers how N.C.-based House of Raeford Farms illustrated problems rampant in the poultry industry. The investigation showed how the company blocked some injured workers from seeing doctors and hauled others back to work hours after surgery for broken bones and severed fingers.

Most of those workers were immigrants who were reluctant to complain for fear of being deported or fired. Observer reporters interviewed more than 200 current and former workers for the investigation.

"The Observer's project revealed the difficult world of the poultry plant through excellent writing and determined reporting," said judge Peter Bhatia, executive editor of The Oregonian in Portland and a former president of ASNE.

"It is a superb example of the revelatory reporting that is unique to newspapers and vital to our society."

Less than a week after "The Cruelest Cuts" was published, federal lawmakers called for hearings to address issues the series raised. The federal Government Accountability Office is now studying whether regulators are doing enough to crack down on companies that try to hide workplace injuries, and lawmakers have added staffing at the N.C. Labor Department.

"Newspapers can step in and give people a voice when other institutions have failed," said Observer Editor Rick Thames. "The poultry industry didn't police itself on the abuse of these workers. State agencies in North and South Carolina also failed them. This team of Observer journalists called out the problem, and we are very proud of their work. Hopefully, this reporting will lead to safer workplaces for all workers in our state."

The Observer will receive the award at the ASNE convention April 27 in Chicago, and the "Cruelest Cuts" stories will appear in “Best Newspaper Writing 2009,” the annual compilation of ASNE-winning work published by the Poynter Institute of St. Petersburg, Fla.


Miami Herald Columnist Honored for Distinguished Commentary

For the third time in his career, Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. has won the prestigious American Society of Newspaper Editors Distinguished Writing Award for Commentary/Column Writing. He previously won the award in 2001 and 2008.

Pitts was honored for a compilation of columns published in 2008, "including pieces on the historic election of President Barack Obama."

Pitts first joined The Miami Herald in 1991 as a pop music critic. Since 1994, he has written a syndicated column of commentary on pop culture, social issues and family life. He won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary and was a Pulitzer finalist in 1992.

The ASNE awards for distinguished writing and photography, announced Feb. 22, attracted more than 300 entries from news organizations throughout the United States.




January, 2009

Kansas City Star Takes Second Place in Philip Meyer Journalism Competition

A Kansas City Star investigation into automobile airbags that don't deploy in front-end collisions has been named one of the best uses of social science research in journalism.

The stories — "Fatal Failures" — took second place in the 2008 Philip Meyer Journalism Awards competition, contest sponsors announced Jan. 22.

Reporters Mike Casey and Rick Montgomery analyzed a federal auto safety database containing 1.9 million records for the project, published in October 2007.

Casey and Montgomery found that at least 1,400 drivers and front-seat passengers died from 2001 through 2006 in front-impact crashes involving vehicles whose airbags never deployed.

The Meyer Awards are administered by the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting (a joint program of Investigative Reporters and Editors and the University of Missouri School of Journalism) and the Knight Chair in Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.




July, 2008

Washington Bureau Chief Wins Inaugural I.F. Stone Medal

John Walcott, McClatchy's Washington Bureau chief, is the first recipient of the I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence. Walcott is being honored for leading his team of reporters in their probing, skeptical coverage of events during the run-up to the Iraq war at a time when most U.S. news organizations failed to question the motives and rationale for the invasion of Iraq.

Established earlier this year, the I.F Stone Medal recognizes journalistic independence and honors the life of investigative journalist I.F. Stone. The award is administered by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard and the Nieman Watchdog Project and will be presented annually to a journalist whose work captures the spirit of independence, integrity and courage that characterized I.F. Stone’s Weekly, published 1953-1971.

In 2002, Walcott, then Knight Ridder Washington, D.C., bureau chief, and two of his top reporters, Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel, produced dozens of stories that refuted the Bush administration’s claims about the need for war and exposed the serious reservations many intelligence, Foreign Service and military officers had about the rush to invade Iraq.

Walcott is now McClatchy's Washington bureau chief; Landay and Strobel are senior correspondents.

In announcing the award, Nieman Curator Bob Giles said, "This is belated recognition of the powerful work done by Walcott in directing his colleagues in developing stories that were unappreciated and almost totally unnoticed at the time. Because so many journalists fell short in their pre-Iraq war coverage, there’s a real need to recognize this dogged editor who went about his business in a resolute way to challenge many of the justifications for the war that proved to be false."


Miami Herald Series Wins Harry Chapin Award

The Miami Herald received one of the nation's top journalism awards for poverty coverage for an investigation last year revealing sweeping problems in Miami-Dade's largest poverty agency.

Reporters Scott Hiaasen and Jason Grotto won first place in the Harry Chapin Media Awards for the series, Poverty Peddlers, which revealed the Miami-Dade Empowerment Trust squandered millions of dollars on pet projects and insider deals while failing to deliver promised jobs. The series was edited by investigations editor Michael Sallah.

The stories showed how a prominent developer was secretly siphoning hundreds of thousands of dollars from a bio-tech project in Liberty City that was supposed to create jobs for the poor and how the Empowerment Trust used tax money to fly multimillionaire celebrities to Miami on luxury jets.

One of the judges for the contest, organized by World Hunger Year, called the series "stunning and extraordinary. It's what reporting is supposed to be."

The awards will be presented by representatives of World Hunger Year and the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism in New York on Oct. 7.



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