ASNE Awards 2011

ASNE Awards for 2010's best journalism announced
Posted 2/17/2011 3:25:00 PM

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

This year's contest attracted 391 qualifying entries from news organizations throughout the United States, which represents a significant increase from the 302 entries received in 2010.

"The 2011 contest may have been the most competitive in years," said Marty Kaiser, editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and chair of this year's ASNE Awards Board. "The depth in the quality of the entries was impressive, thanks to the 30 percent increase in the number of entries and the variety of news organizations entered in the contest."

According to Kaiser, "Much of the best work demonstrated that technology is giving journalists new tools to improve their reporting and storytelling. The winners and finalists show that the journalistic missions of accountability and great storytelling remain strong at many news organizations."
The winners
A.C. Thompson, ProPublica, for his work uncovering police misconduct and vigilante justice in the chaotic days after Hurricane Katrina. Thompson's dogged reporting into the murder of Henry Glover and the attempted murder of Donnell Herrington led to guilty pleas, indictments and a massive federal investigation of police corruption in New Orleans. As ProPublica's nominating letter noted, Thompson was a "single reporter determined to uncover some uncomfortable truths about a police force that had acted with impunity."

Jacquielynn Floyd, The Dallas Morning News, for exceptional reporting and writing that focused on local issues to tell universal truths. In deeply felt columns on criminal justice, family, immigration and prejudice, Floyd wrote convincingly about regular folks who felt the sting of injustice and whose lives were disrupted by violence, trauma and bureaucratic incompetence.

The staff of the Hartford (Conn.) Courant, for its coverage of a disgruntled employee's rampage that left nine people dead. Minutes after Omar Thornton began gunning down co-workers at a beer warehouse, the Courant broke the story. But the newspaper's reporting involved far more than getting it first. The Courant created a riveting narrative based on eyewitness and police accounts and then went on to unlock the story of what drove Thornton to commit the worst mass murder in Hartford's history.

The staff of The New York Times, for "A Year at War." The Times brought the war in Afghanistan home by using the power of reporting, video, still photography and other online tools to chronicle the life of a battalion with intimacy and deep understanding. The package, beautifully presented, broke ground in the long history of war correspondence. From glimpses of everyday base life to a wrenching story about the children left at home, the Times elevated wartime storytelling to a new emotional plane.

Barbara Davidson, Los Angeles Times, for her absorbing examination of the effects of gang violence on the innocent: those wounded or killed because of a quarrel in which they had no part, victims lying in hospital beds or relatives and friends standing by their loved ones' coffins or sitting all alone asking, "Why?" Though Davidson's wrenching photographs cannot answer their question, they are a masterful reminder that gang violence is not just hoodlum against hoodlum but a very real threat to those who would have no part of it but are not given a choice.

William Wan, The Washington Post, for stories that provide insights that add to readers understanding and awareness of diverse issues shaping society and culture. Wan writes about a proud U.S. Army soldier whose Islamic faith is the target of ongoing hostility within his own ranks. Another piece details unusual Saturday afternoon church services at a Giant supermarket, where worshipping occurs in the community room and sometimes in the aisles. He also reports on Major League Baseball's quixotic training program in China: First find a Chinese youngster or two to become future stars of the American pastime, then grow the fan base in that merchandising dream market.

Alfred P. Doblin, The Record, Bergen County, N.J., for writing robustly and persuasively across a range of issues. Whether on state pension reforms, the Manhattan Islamic center debate, inequities in train station accommodations, or disowning the message while championing the off-duty free speech rights of a fired N.J. Transit worker, Doblin's editorials are clear-headed, straight-talking and well-crafted.

The staff of the Los Angeles Times, for its relentless reporting on the shockingly exorbitant salaries paid to officials of the small suburban city of Bell, Calif., and on those officials' arrogant disregard for the public welfare. The Times' investigation led to arrests, state and federal investigations, refunds of millions of dollars in illegal taxes, and tough new financial disclosure rules for California cities and counties.

Michael Kruse, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, for writing with delightful verve on an array of topics, from a monkey on the loose to a onetime marketing executive turned supermarket "bag boy," Kruse's portfolio stands out for its consistent sparkle and the originality of his approach, and shows just how much is gained from writing with economy.

The finalists

Batten Medal

  • Rukmini Callimachi, The Associated Press
  • Marjie Lundstrom, The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee

Distinguished Writing Award for Commentary/Column Writing
  • Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press
  • Dana Milbank, The Washington Post
  • James C. Warren, Chicago News Cooperative

Community Service Photojournalism
  • Lisa Krantz, San Antonio Express-News
  • Erika Schultz, The Seattle Times

Jesse Laventhol Prize for Deadline News Reporting
  • Staff, The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post
  • David Fahrenthold, The Washington Post

Freedom Forum/ASNE Award for Distinguished Writing on Diversity
  • Joan Garrett, Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times Free Press
  • Tina Griego, The Denver Post
  • Brady McCombs, Dean Knuth, Arizona Daily Star, Tucson

Distinguished Writing Award for Editorial Writing
  • Linda Valdez, The Arizona Republic, Phoenix
  • Paul Weingarten, Chicago Tribune

Distinguished Writing Award for Local Accountability Reporting
  • Paige St. John, Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune
  • Staff, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland

Distinguished Writing Award for Nondeadline Writing
  • Christopher Goffard, Los Angeles Times
  • Deborah Sontag, The New York Times

Online Storytelling
  • Jason Plotkin, York (Pa.) Daily Record
  • Staff, The Washington Post

The staff of the Hartford Courant will receive $10,000 for winning the Jesse Laventhol prize. The prize is named in honor of a longtime Philadelphia newspaperman and is endowed by his son, David A. Laventhol, a former editor and executive in the newspaper business.

William Wan of The Washington Post will receive $2,500 for winning the Freedom Forum/ASNE Award for Distinguished Writing on Diversity. Funding for the award is provided by the Freedom Forum, which has partnered with ASNE on many diversity efforts.

A.C. Thompson of ProPublica will receive $2,500 for winning the Batten Medal, which 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 editors from the former Knight Ridder company, and a corporate gift.

All of the other winners will receive $1,000 prizes funded by the ASNE Foundation, which is supported by gifts from ASNE members, newspaper companies and foundations.

The Poynter Institute partners with ASNE in administering the competition.

Aside from the Batten Medal, which covers work published since 2008, the awards were given for work completed in 2010. All newspapers, news services and news websites in the United States are eligible to enter. Outside the United States, news organizations that are headed by an active member of ASNE are also eligible to participate.

The awards will be presented during this year's ASNE convention, which will be held April 6-9 in San Diego, Calif.

In addition to Awards Board chair Marty Kaiser, this year's writing judges were: Debra L. Adams Simmons*, editor, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland; Caesar Andrews, Edith Kinney Gaylord Visiting Professor in Journalism Ethics, Arizona State University, Phoenix; Gilbert Bailon, editorial page editor, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Martin Baron, editor, The Boston Globe; Amanda Bennett, executive editor, Bloomberg News, New York; David Boardman, executive editor, The Seattle Times; Neil Brown, editor, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times; Stephen Buckley, dean, The Poynter Institute, St. Petersburg, Fla.; Milton Coleman, senior editor, The Washington Post; Michael K. Connelly, executive editor, Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune; Susan Goldberg, executive editor, Bloomberg News, San Francisco; Charlotte H. Hall, visiting professor, Washington & Lee University, Lexington, Va.; Richard Maas, managing editor, The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune; Mi-Ai Parrish*, publisher, The Idaho Statesman, Boise; Ken Paulson, president and chief executive officer, First Amendment Center, Nashville, Tenn.; Karen Peterson, executive editor, The News Tribune, Tacoma, Wash.; Mark E. Russell, editor, Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel; Melanie A. Sill, editor & senior vice president, The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee; Kathy Spurlock, executive editor, The News-Star, Monroe, La.; Paul E. Steiger, editor-in-chief, ProPublica, New York; Mizell Stewart III, editor, Evansville (Ind.) Courier & Press; and Margaret M. Sullivan, editor, The Buffalo (N.Y.) News.

Carolyn Lee, New York, chaired the photojournalism award judging. Three photo experts also joined in the judging: Judy DeHaas, photojournalist, San Francisco Chronicle; Kenny Irby, senior faculty, Visual Journalism and Diversity, The Poynter Institute, St. Petersburg, Fla.; and Merrill Oliver, picture editor, The New York Times.

*Also participated in the photo judging.

ASNE is a membership organization for leaders of multimedia news organizations and deans and endowed chairs at accredited journalism schools. ASNE focuses primarily on open government and the First Amendment, journalism education, leadership and diversity.