Winners of the 1996 Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Awards

Tue, August 26, 1997 by Sue Porter

CINCINNATI, Ohio – The Scripps Howard Foundation today announced the winners of its 1996 National Journalism Awards.Three newspapers, three television stations, two radio stations and six individuals were recognized for their efforts in 14 categories ranging from human interest writing and public service to support of literacy and defense of the First Amendment. Bronze plaques and $41,000 in cash prizes will be awarded at a banquet hosted by The E. W. Scripps Company on March 26 in Cincinnati."The work we’re honoring has risen to the top," said Judith G. Clabes, president and CEO of the Scripps Howard Foundation. "It’s the best of American journalism in 1996. It shed light on unlikely heroes, the mood of voters, the threat to a state’s forests, the dangers of medical waste, the cover-up of harassment settlements, the folly of a city’s zoning laws, the ‘unhealed sore’ of America’s race relations, the political mischief of the independent counsel – and so much more."Added William R. Burleigh, president and CEO of The E.W. Scripps Company, "The journalists we’re honoring practice journalism in the right way. We at Scripps salute them for their singular accomplishments in improving and enriching our lives. We pay tribute to them, we dedicate ourselves anew to what is good and noble about this made-in-America calling of journalism."The winners are:HUMAN INTEREST WRITINGJohn Lang, Scripps Howard News ServiceLang will receive $2,500 and the Ernie Pyle Award plaque.Noted for his stories of universal appeal, Lang’s writing style blends facts with feelings. Last fall, his reporting duties took him across the country where he spoke with Americans about election issues. The journey resulted in spontaneous, grassroots articles, which were published by newspapers nationwide. Judges said: "Lang writes in a clean, entertaining style that manages to capture emotion and substance in relatively brief pieces, much as did Ernie Pyle."EDITORIAL WRITINGMichael G. Gartner, The Daily Tribune, Ames, IowaGartner will receive $2,000 and the Walker Stone Award plaque.Gartner won for his hard-hitting daily commentaries – all of which revolve around a city, county or state issue. In 1996, his essay-style, solution-oriented editorials ranged from lap dancing to town financial issues. Judges said: "Gartner raises the mundane to high drama with incisive reporting, enticing humor and occasional rhetorical flourish, leaving his readers to his call to action, precisely when they are ready to receive it."PUBLIC SERVICE – Under 100,000 CirculationMaureen Magee, Ventura County (Calif.) StarMagee will receive $2,500 and a Roy W. Howard plaque.In a never-before-told report, Magee profiled California’s "nonpublic school" for troubled children. Instead of education, these for-profit schools were dishing out exploitation and abuse – and costing taxpayers nearly $250 million a year in state funding. Judges said: "Magee asked why it costs more to educate and house a troubled child for a year than it did to send a student to Yale or Harvard. She found warehousing of children while the public paid staggering amounts per child."PUBLIC SERVICE – Over 100,000 CirculationAlison Young, Detroit Free PressYoung will receive $2,500 and a Roy W. Howard plaque.Young launched an investigation into Michigan’s more than $1-billion-a-year nursing home business after finding similarities in the deaths of five elderly residents. The five-part series documented hundreds of violations and showed a home-by-home comparison. Judges said: "A benchmark investigation. Compelling and thorough but not sensationalized. It’s a textbook example of what can result when one reporter asks, ‘Why?’"ENVIRONMENTAL REPORTING – under 100,000 circulationKen Ward, Jr., The Charleston (W.Va.) GazetteWard will receive $2,000 and an Edward J. Meeman Award plaque.Two of Ward’s recent reporting projects earned him a 1996 Meeman Award and recognition as a finalist in the same category – a rare feat in the Scripps Howard Foundation annual competition. His winning entry documented a local hospital’s efforts to open a new medical waste incinerator in a neighborhood that was bustling with renewal. Judges said: "Ward’s aggressive reporting revealed that the quietly approved project had benefited from errors made by regulators in the permit process. Compelling journalism."ENVIRONMENTAL REPORTING – over 100,000 circulationMobile (Ala.) RegisterThe Register will receive $2,000 cash and an Edward J. Meeman Award plaque, recognizing the work of Bill Finch, Sam Hodges, Sean Reilly and Dewey English.In a 24-page special report, the Mobile Register took an in-depth look at the forestry industry – Alabama’s largest manufacturing employer. The newspaper revealed the state was overcutting and undermanaging its vital resource, with profound effects on the economy. Judges said: "The Register combines exacting reporting, superb story-telling and a grasp of detail to paint a mixed picture of the state’s environmental profile: The current timber boomlet has re-invigorated pockets of Alabama. But peril resides just below the surface."FIRST AMENDMENTHonolulu Star-BulletinThe newspaper will receive $2,500 and an Edward Willis Scripps Award plaque.In a six-day special report, the Star-Bulletin detailed how Hawaii’s government is increasingly denying public access to information. The afternoon newspaper took the issue out of the courtroom and into the community. As a result, openness became an issue in the local elections. Judges said: "The Star-Bulletin’s special report sounded the alarm, explained what was at stake and led the way to critical and much-needed reform."BROADCAST/CABLE JOURNALISM – Small Market TelevisionWWSB-TV, Sarasota, Fla.The station will receive $2,000 and a Jack R. Howard Award plaque.Sarasota, a town populated by many retirees, experienced its first gang-related murder last July. In a four-part series, WWSB examined the emerging gangs and educated the community, without resorting to sensationalism. Judges said: "Very thorough in its research and presentation. The program represents a major commitment of time and resources for this smaller station."BROADCAST/CABLE JOURNALISM – Large Market TelevisionWCPO-TV, CincinnatiThe station will receive $2,000 and a Jack R. Howard Award plaque.WCPO was ahead of the news, investigating airport security months before the crash of TWA Flight 800. The station revealed that despite the appearance of security, the flying public is very vulnerable to terrorist activity. Judges said: "Clear and convincing evidence of a very serious problem which could affect airports all over the world. Reporting was thorough and understandable with high quality production values."BROADCAST JOURNALISM – Small Market RadioKNAU-FM, Flagstaff, Ariz.The station will receive $2,000 and a Jack R. Howard Award plaque.Public radio station KNAU- FM tackled the sensitive topic of racial tensions in Arizona’s Indian Country. An hour-long documentary and five subsequent reports explored the economic, social and political implications. Judges said: "A well-produced, organized examination of a significant regional issue. It grabbed our attention with real people and real voices."BROADCAST JOURNALISM – Large Market RadioWCBS Radio, New YorkThe station will receive $2,000 and a Jack R. Howard Award plaque.Within moments of the TWA Flight 800 explosion, WCBS launched its helicopter and had a dozen reporters on the scene. That night and for most of the next day, WCBS aired wall-to-wall coverage using a myriad of angles. Judges said: "The ability to provide outstanding coverage of the big breaking story is the hallmark of a great news organization. WCBS provided that conclusively."LITERACY – Newspaper DivisionThe Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, N.C. – Service in support of literacyThe Gazette will receive $2,500 and will designate a literacy program in its community to receive a $5,000 grant from the Scripps Howard Foundation. The newspaper will also receive a Charles E. Scripps Award plaque.The Gazette was recognized for a multi-faceted approach to fostering reading in its community. The newspaper coupled traditional newspaper resources – stories, photographs and editorials – with non-traditional ways of spreading the word. Judges said: "The Gazette clearly showed the problems, then the solutions – and then the payoff. We’re very impressed by the scope of work."LITERACY – Broadcast/Cable DivisionWTHR-TV, Indianapolis – Service in support of literacyWTHR will receive $2,500 and will designate a literacy program in its community to receive a $5,000 grant from the Scripps Howard Foundation. The station will also receive a Charles E. Scripps Award plaque.Last January, WTHR-TV symbolically "signed off" the air for two hours and encouraged viewers to read with family and friends. This dramatic gesture inaugurated the station’s year-long community service program, which generated more than 1,000 calls to the literacy helpline. Judges said: "A huge undertaking! The work behind the end product really showed WTHR’s dedication to finding solutions."COLLEGE CARTOONINGJody D. Lindke, University of NevadaLindke will receive $2,000 and the Charles M. Schulz Award plaque.A first-year graduate student, Lindke was recognized for her multi-panel cartoons, known as Nicnup, which appear in the university newspaper, Sagebrush. Judges said: "Wonderfully creative. Lindke demonstrates real understanding of the visual and verbal interplay."###End of text. List of finalists and judges follows.Pictures of winners available electronically. Contact Nate Parsons, 202-408-2723 FINALISTS AND JUDGESHUMAN INTEREST WRITINGFINALIST: Sean Kirst, The Syracuse (N.Y.) NewspapersJUDGES: Rick Rodriguez, managing editor, The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee; Kathy Silverberg, executive editor, Times Daily, Florence, Ala.; and Dan K. Thomasson, vice president/news, Scripps Howard Newspapers and editor, Scripps Howard News ServiceEDITORIAL WRITINGFINALIST: N. Don Wycliff, Chicago TribuneJUDGES: Caroline Brewer, editorial writer, The Record, Hackensack, N.J.; Ernie Gates, gathering editor, Daily Press, Newport News, Va.; and Alan M. Horton, senior vice president/publishing division, The E.W. Scripps CompanyPUBLIC SERVICEFINALIST--UNDER 100,000: NoneFINALISTS--OVER 100,000: Paul Pinkham, Nancy Visser and Mark Middlebrook, The Florida Times-Union JUDGES: Larry Olmstead, managing editor, The Miami Herald; Louise Seals, managing editor, Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch; and Vince Vawter, editor and president, The Evansville (Ind.) CourierENVIRONMENTAL REPORTINGFINALISTS--OVER 100,000: John McQuaid, Bob Marshall, Mark Schleifstein and Ted Jackson, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune; and Lynda Mapes, The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash.FINALIST--UNDER 100,000: Ken Ward, Jr., The Charleston (W.Va.) GazetteJUDGES: Caesar Andrews, editor, Gannett News Service; Pam Luecke, editor and vice president, Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader; and Harry Moskos, editor, The Knoxville (Tenn.) News-SentinelFIRST AMENDMENTFINALISTS: Robert Miraldi, Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal; and Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif.JUDGES: Louis D. Boccardi, president and CEO, The Associated Press; Loren Ghiglione, James M. Cox Jr. Professor of Journalism, Emory University; and Sandra Mims Rowe, editor, The OregonianBROADCAST/CABLE JOURNALISMFINALIST--SMALL MARKET RADIO: NoneFINALIST--LARGE MARKET RADIO: WSM, Nashville, Tenn.FINALIST--SMALL MARKET TV/CABLE: NoneFINALISTS--LARGE MARKET TV/CABLE: WTVJ-TV, Miami; and WPTV-TV, West Palm Beach, Fla.JUDGES: Mike Cavender, vice president/news, WTSP-TV, St. Petersburg, Fla., and Chair, Radio/Television News Directors Association; James C. King, general manager, WVXU-FM, Cincinnati; and Eric Ober, president and CEO, Cinetel Productions, Knoxville, Tenn.LITERACYFINALIST--NEWSPAPER: NoneFINALIST--BROADCAST/CABLE: KVSF-FM, Santa Fe, N.M.JUDGES: Lisa Cooney, news anchor, WLWT-TV, Cincinnati; Paul Knue, editor, The Cincinnati Post/The Kentucky Post; and Buck Ryan, director, The School of Journalism & Telecommunication, University of KentuckyCOLLEGE CARTOONISTFINALISTS: Darrin Bell, University of California; David J. Kellett, University of California San Diego; and Brian Fairrington, Arizona State UniversityJUDGES: Lucy Caswell, associate professor and curator, Graphic and Photographic Arts Research Library, The Ohio State University; Al Roker, weather and feature reporter, NBC News, "The Today Show;" and Charles M. Schulz, creator of PEANUTS