ASNE Awards 2009

RESTON, Va. — The American Society of Newspaper Editors has selected the winners of its annual awards for distinguished writing and photography.

This year’s contest attracted over 300 entries from news organizations throughout the United States.

“The judges were heartened by the consistently high quality of the entries,” said Andy Alexander, chair of the ASNE Awards judging and ombudsman for The Washington Post. “Despite these difficult economic times, it was inspiring to see so much ambitious work. These were stories that righted wrongs, exposed corruption, gave voice to the underdog and championed truth. And, because this is the nation’s premier newspaper writing competition, the entries were compelling and absorbing. The beautiful prose and photography reminded us of the powerful impact that newspapers can have on readers and their communities.”

The winners

Jesse Laventhol Prize for Deadline News Reporting by a Team — Staff, Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald. For coverage of a deadly tornado that claimed the lives of four Boy Scouts.

Batten Medal - Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times. A collection of stories spotlighting the cruelties, hopes and fears of the people of Zimbabwe.

Commentary/Column Writing - Leonard Pitts Jr., The Miami Herald. A compilation of columns including pieces on the historic election of President Barack Obama.

Community Service Photojournalism Award - Sonya N. Hebert, The Dallas Morning News. Photos depicting people living on the edge of life.

Freedom Forum/ASNE Award for Distinguished Writing on Diversity - Jason Stein, Wisconsin State Journal, Madison. Stories on the impending loss of the state’s five Native American languages.

Distinguished Writing Award for Editorial Writing - Ken Stickney, The News-Star, Monroe, La. A collection of editorials, including one on permits for students to carry concealed handguns on campus.

Distinguished Writing Award for Local Accountability Reporting - Ames Alexander, Kerry Hall, Franco Ordoñez, Ted Mellnik, Peter St. Onge, The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer. For a series of stories revealing how officials in the poultry industry ignored and threatened injured workers.

Distinguished Writing Award for Nondeadline Writing - Joanna Connors, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland. For stories of her rape 20 years ago and her search to find the man who did it.

The Jesse Laventhol prize carries a $10,000 cash award; all of the others will receive $2,500 prizes. The awards will be presented on Monday, April 27, during the ASNE Convention in Chicago.


Click on the image for a high resolution version.

Staff, Omaha (Neb.) World Herald
Staff, Omaha (Neb.) World Herald
Jesse Laventhol Prize for Deadline Reporting by a Team
DixonRobyn.jpg PittsLeonard.jpg
Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times
Batten Medal
Leonard Pitts, Jr.
HebertSonya.jpg SteinJason.jpg
Sonya N. Hebert, The Dallas Morning News
Community Service Photojournalism
Jason Stein, Wisconsin State Journal, Madison
Freedom Forum/ASNE Award for Distinguished Writing on Diversity
StickneyKen.jpg ConnorsJoanna.jpg
Ken Stickney, The News-Star, Monroe, La.
Editorial Writing
Joanna Connors, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland
Nondeadline Writing
The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer Team
Team, The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer
Local Accountability Reporting
The ASNE judges also recognized the work of other newspaper journalists as finalists:

Jesse Laventhol Prize for Deadline News Reporting by a Team

  • Staff, Los Angeles Times
  • Team of 16 reporters, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Batten Medal

  • Regina Brett, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland
  • Kevin Cullen, The Boston Globe

Commentary/Column Writing

  • Kathleen O’Brien, The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J.
  • John Canzano, The Oregonian, Portland

Community Service Photojournalism

  • Don Barletti, Los Angeles Times
  • Nikki Kahn, The Washington Post

Freedom Forum/ASNE Award for Outstanding Writing on Diversity

  • Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times
  • Steve Young, Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, S.D.

Distinguished Writing Award for Editorial Writing

  • David Barham, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Little Rock
  • Doug Bates, The Oregonian, Portland

Local Accountability Reporting

  • Dan Mihalopoulos, Robert Becker, Todd Lighty, Carnell Little, Laurie Cohen — Chicago Tribune
  • Alexandra Berzon, Las Vegas Sun, Henderson, Nev.

Nondeadline Writing

  • Lane DeGregory, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times
  • Kate Kelly, The Wall Street Journal, New York
  • Joe Mozingo, Los Angeles Times

The judges did not select a recipient for the Jesse Laventhol Prize for Deadline News Reporting by an Individual this year. The entries failed to meet the qualifications for the award.

The Jesse Laventhol prizes are named in honor of a longtime Philadelphia newspaperman. They are endowed by his son, David A. Laventhol, a former editor and executive for Times Mirror. Laventhol has been a member of ASNE for many years and serves as a member of the ASNE Awards Board.

The Freedom Forum, which has partnered with ASNE on many diversity efforts, funds the award for outstanding writing on diversity.

The Batten Medal honors the memory of revered reporter, editor and newspaper executive James K. Batten. The medal is intended to celebrate the journalistic values Batten stood for: compassion, courage, humanity and a deep concern for the underdog. The award was established and funded by a group of Knight Ridder editors and a corporate gift.

The ASNE Foundation — which is supported by gifts from ASNE members, newspaper companies and foundations — funds the other awards. The Poynter Institute partners with ASNE in administering the competition.

The awards were given for work completed in 2008. All daily newspapers and wire services in the United States are eligible to enter. Also eligible are other newspapers in the Americas that are headed by an active member of ASNE. All entries must be submitted in English.

Carolyn Lee, New York, chaired the photojournalism award judging. Four photo experts also joined in the judging: Kenny Irby, visual journalism group leader and diversity program director, The Poynter Institute; Michele McNally, director of photography, The New York Times; Mona Reeder, photographer, The Dallas Morning News; and Eric Strachan, senior managing editor, Naples Daily (Fla.) News.

This year’s writing judges were: Andrew N. Alexander, ombudsman, The Washington Post; Gilbert Bailon, editorial page editor, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Peter K. Bhatia, executive editor, The Oregonian, Portland; David Boardman, executive editor, The Seattle Times; Neil Brown, executive editor, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times; Milton Coleman, deputy managing editor, The Washington Post; Susan Goldberg, editor, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland; Charlotte H. Hall, senior vice president/editor, Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel; Pamela J. Johnson, executive director, Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, Missouri School of Journalism; W. Martin Kaiser, editor, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Saundra E. Keyes, professor, University of Nevada Reynolds School of Journalism; Carolyn Lee, retired, The New York Times; Melanie A. Sill, editor, The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee; Kathy Spurlock, executive editor, The News-Star, Monroe, La.; Michael E. Waller, retired, Hilton Head Island, S.C.; and David A. Zeeck, president and publisher, The News Tribune, Tacoma, Wash.

Judges abstain from discussion when there is either a personal or professional conflict of interest.

ASNE is the principal organization of American newspaper editors. It is active in a number of areas, including open government, freedom of the press, journalism credibility and ethics, newsroom management, diversity and readership.