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Newspapers honored for journalism excellence
Newspapers honored for journalism excellence

Posted June 26, 2008

NEW YORK (AP) – Investigative journalism which revealed that Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his chief of staff lied under oath in a costly lawsuit against the city earned Detroit's Free Press a Public Service Award from the Associated Press Managing Editors Association.

The newspaper's report followed a review of 14,000 text messages sent to and from the female chief of staff's city-issued pager. Days later a prosecutor investigated and eventually charged Kilpatrick and his aide with 12 felonies combined, including perjury, obstruction of justice and misconduct in office.

The Virgin Islands Daily News of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, won the small circulation category for uncovering an ill-conceived fee that the territory's waste management authority was quietly planning to impose on every business and individual. It was the newspaper's second consecutive Public Service award and fifth in 13 years.

In the 40,000 to 150,000 circulation category, The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., won for a series of stories revealing patient abuse, rape and assaults, and felons working as doctors and attendants at Delaware's only mental hospital.

APME, an association of editors at 1,500 AP member newspapers in the U.S. and the Canadian Press in Canada, recognizes journalism excellence with annual awards in five categories. This year's winners were selected during a meeting of the association's board of directors. The awards will be presented during the group's annual conference Sept. 8-11 Las Vegas. Directors did not participate in discussions or votes on their own newspapers' entries.

Judges for the Public Service awards were past APME presidents Karen Magnuson, editor and vice president of the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle; David Hawpe, vice president and editorial director of The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.; and Suki Dardarian, managing editor of The Seattle Times; current president David Ledford, editor of The News-Journal; and Lou Ferrara, AP managing editor.

Three finalists were selected for APME's second annual Innovator of the Year Award: the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel for its watchdog team in print and on the Internet; the Las Vegas Sun for Web innovations, including a history of Las Vegas; and Florida Today of Melbourne, Fla., for a "mission control" approach to print and online coordination. The winner will be selected by the audience in an interactive presentation in Las Vegas.

In awards announced Thursday (in order of circulation category – over 150,000, 40,000-150,000, and under 40,000):

FIRST AMENDMENT:

■ Over 150,000: The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C., for shedding "electronic sunshine" on e-mail written by public officials, which are public records and must be kept.

■ 40,000-150,000: The Knoxville (Tenn.) News Sentinel, which aggressively fought against back-door dealings of the Knox County Commission, winning a lawsuit to have commission appointments invalidated.

■ Under 40,000: The Post-Star of Glens Falls, N.Y., where the paper and its editorial page editor, Mark Mahoney, have made First Amendment issues extremely accessible to readers through the user-friendly "Your Right to Know" blog.

The Knoxville (Tenn.) News Sentinel received the Sweepstakes Award.

In addition to the three category winners, the judges awarded a First Amendment Citation to The Phoenix New Times for aggressively investigating and reporting on grand jury subpoenas seeking notes, tapes and confidential sources from any contact with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, an investigation which expanded to other citizens.

Judges: Peter Kovacs, managing editor, The Times-Picayune, New Orleans; Jan Touney, managing editor, Quad City Times, Davenport, Iowa; Otis Sanford, editor-opinion and editorials, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.; and David Tomlin, AP associate general counsel.

INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE:

■ Over 150,000: The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C., for a four-part series reporting a North Carolina National Guard sergeant's struggle with a promise he was unable to keep to a local woman – that he would bring her son back from Iraq alive.

■ 40,000-150,000: Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Ariz., for the emotional story of locating the family and returning to them the body of a young Mexican man who died attempting to cross the border.

■ Under 40,000: The Brownsville (Texas) Herald, for "Worlds Apart" reporting the marked difference between public schools in Brownsville and those across the Rio Grande in Matamoros, Mexico.

Judges: Hank Klibanoff, managing editor-enterprise, Atlantic Journal-Constitution; Jill Nevels-Haun, executive editor/director of content and audience development, The News-Messenger, Fremont, Ohio; and Mary Rajkumar, AP international desk.

ONLINE CONVERGENCE:

■ Over 150,000: The Oregonian, Portland, Ore., for an engrossing series of video diaries recounting the final days of a former Oregonian news researcher dying of lung cancer.

■ 40,000-150,000: The Roanoke (Va.) Times, which looked at the rapid graying of the region and whether it was prepared for the swelling ranks of senior citizens.

■ Under 40,000: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, for a multi-platform collection of coverage of the 2007-08 Kansas Jayhawks national basketball championship season.

Judges: Carole Tarrant, editor, The Roanoke (Va.) Times; Maria Lettman, assistant managing editor-Internet, The Record, Hackensack, N.J.; Ken Chavez, assistant managing editor-interactive media, The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee; and Shazna Nessa, AP interactive.

• • •

The judges listed finalists or honorable mentions in other categories:

PUBLIC SERVICE:

Over 150,000:

■ Pittsburgh Post Gazette, for revealing a bogus MBA degree awarded to the West Virginia governor's daughter.

■ The New York Times, for stories examining scams taking advantage of senior citizens.

■ The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, for investigating difficulties workers face in the chicken industry.

40,000-150,000:

■ The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C., for investigating how a simple trash fire ended up consuming a large furniture store and killing nine firefighters.

■ The Ann Arbor (Mich.) News, for a look at the relationship between academics and athletics at the University of Michigan.

■ Star-News, Wilmington, N.C., for environmental reporting documenting and analyzing the dangers of contaminants at Camp LeJeune.

Under 40,000:

■ The Argus, Fremont, Calif., for a four-part series investigating clergy child sex abuse in the Diocese of Oakland.

■ Galveston County (Texas) Daily News, for reporting on the failed promises of lower prices in deregulation of Texas' electricity markets.

INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE:

40,000-150,000:

■ The News-Tribune, Tacoma, Wash., for a print and online blog entry about a group of barflies who decide to deliver four used police cars and a fully loaded ambulance to a desperate town in central Mexico 3,000 miles away.

ONLINE CONVERGENCE:

Over 150,000:

■ The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, for deep reporting on the grueling recovery of an 18-year-old girl shot in the face.

■ St. Louis Post-Dispatch, for an intimate look at young recruits who signed up for the Army.

■ The Globe and Mail, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, for reporter Ian Brown's intimate account of his son and the rare syndrome that afflicts him.

40,000-150,000:

■ The Des Moines (Iowa) Register, for effectively reporting the Iowa Caucuses in print and online.

■ The Providence (R.I.) Journal, for a multimedia look at the gangs of Providence.

Under 40,000:

■ Northwest Herald, Crystal Lake, Ill., which raised questions whether a sudden increase in brain cancer was the result of coincidence or something else.

■ The Day, New London, Conn., for a look at the lives of 42 soldiers with ties to Connecticut who had died in Iraq.

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