Newspapers recognized for journalism excellence
Posted Aug. 3, 2009
NEW YORK (AP) – An investigation into the spread of a deadly
drug-resistant staph germ at hospitals in Washington state earned The
Seattle Times a Public Service Award from the Associated Press Managing
In "Culture of Resistance," the newspaper uncovered 672 deaths from
methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, that had been
undisclosed to relatives and the public. The report also revealed that
the number of patients treated each year for MRSA had increased from
141 to 4,723 in just 10 years.
The Virgin Islands Daily News of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands,
won the small-circulation category for uncovering life-threatening
corruption at the only cancer center in the U.S. and British Virgin
Islands. It is the newspaper's third straight Public Service award and
sixth in 14 years. The newspaper reported that the hospital awarded its
chief executive officer a record $750,000 in salary and benefits at the
same time it wasn't paying bills for drugs and equipment. Some patients
couldn't get chemotherapy treatments on time because drug companies had
cut off supplies.
In the 40,000 to 150,000-circulation category, the Lexington (Ky.)
Herald-Leader won for a series of investigations into the spending of
tax dollars by quasi-government groups. One examined the lavish expense
account of the executive director of the Blue Grass Airport as well as
his top four lieutenants. Other targets were the Lexington Public
Library, the Kentucky League of Cities and Kentucky Association of
APME, an association of editors at AP's 1,500 member newspapers in
the U.S. and newspapers served by 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 in late July. The awards will be presented during
the group's annual conference Oct. 28-30 in St. Louis. Directors did
not participate in discussions or votes on their own newspapers'
Judges for the Public Service awards were past APME presidents David
Hawpe, vice president and editorial director of The Courier-Journal of
Louisville, Ky.; David Ledford, editor of The News Journal of
Wilmington, Del.; Karen Magnuson, editor and vice president/news, The
Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, N.Y.; current APME President Bobbie
Jo Buel, editor of the Arizona Daily Star of Tucson; and Kristin
Gazlay, AP vice president and managing editor for financial news and
In uncovering the staph germ epidemic, The Seattle Times had to
fight for records and made many of those documents available to readers
in a searchable database. By the end of the three-day series, the state
said it would require hospitals for the first time to report all cases
linked to MRSA. The project also resulted in new state laws requiring
hospitals to screen at-risk patients for MRSA and providing for
surprise hospital inspections.
"The Seattle Times' reporting will save lives, and that is
public-service reporting at its best," the judges said in making the
Three finalists were selected for APME's third annual Innovator of
the Year Award: The Oklahoman of Oklahoma City, for a staffwide
commitment to video; The News-Press of Fort Myers, Fla., for audience
engagement efforts including packages that brought experts and readers
together with in-depth reporting, photo and video to tackle issues; and
The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., for environmental coverage called
AllGreenToMe that brings print and online together and provides an
international look at environmental challenges facing Delaware.
Judges were Bob Heisse, vice president and executive editor of the
Centre Daily Times of State College, Pa.; Brad Dennison, vice president
of news operations for GateHouse Media Inc.; Jon Broadbooks, executive
editor of The State Journal-Register of Springfield, Ill.; and Ruth
Gersh, AP director of product integration.
The association also made these awards (in order of circulation category – over 150,000, 40,000-150,000 and under 40,000):
■ The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky., for an examination of the University of Louisville Foundation.
■ The Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester, N.Y., for exposing and
helping to correct a system in which court officials failed to file
court documents in their proper place.
■ The Press-Citizen of Iowa City, Iowa, for extensive efforts to
report and obtain records related to an alleged sexual assault
involving football players at the University of Iowa.
Peter Kovacs, managing editor, The Times-Picayune, New Orleans
Jan Touney, managing editor, Quad-City Times, Davenport, Iowa
Otis Sanford, editor for opinion and editorials, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.
David Bailey, managing editor, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Little Rock, Ark.
David Tomlin, AP associate general counsel
■ The Boston Globe, for stories and a blog by former Globe foreign
editor James F. Smith demonstrating that newspapers can bring readers
an international perspective without leaving home.
■ The Des Moines (Iowa) Register, for a series launched after a raid
at a meatpacking factory that shed light on the conditions that
prompted an influx of illegal immigration in an Iowa town.
■ No winner for under 40,000 circulation.
Carole Tarrant, editor, The Roanoke (Va.) Times
Jill Nevels-Haun, executive editor, The News-Messenger, Fremont, Ohio
Brad Dennison, vice president of news operations for GateHouse Media Inc.
■ Las Vegas Sun, for a cutting-edge multimedia presentation and
interactive database exploring a serious water shortage in the Las
■ The News-Press of Fort Myers, Fla., for the best use of its print
and online products to tell the story of a boy's dying dream to build
an orphanage for the children of Africa.
■ Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, for an in-depth, multimedia look at
off-limits sites, valuable resources and fascinating features that
exist beneath the surface of the Sunflower State. This is the
newspaper's third straight Online Convergence Award.
Hollis Towns, executive editor and vice president for news, Asbury Park Press, Neptune, N.J.
Kurt Franck, managing editor, The Blade of Toledo, Ohio
Michael Days, editor, Philadelphia Daily News
Shazna Nessa, AP director of multimedia and graphics
• • •
The judges listed finalists or honorable mentions in other categories:
■ The Washington Post for gripping accounts showing the enormous burdens borne by women in West Africa and South Asia.
■ The Boston Globe for four stories of Bostonians who shaped world events.
■ The Seattle Times and seattletimes.com for a two-year investigation into the murky world of congressional earmarks.
40,000 to 150,000
■ The Roanoke (Va.) Times and roanoke.com for an interactive tour of the new $66 million Taubman Museum of Art.
■ Victoria (Texas) Advocate and victoriaadvocate.com for an interactive package complementing a 16-month examination of illegal immigration.
• • •
In addition, the judges awarded these APME First Amendment Citations:
■ The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch for an examination of how major
colleges use a vague federal law to shield information about their
big-time athletics departments.
■ The Memphis (Tenn.) Commercial Appeal for stories and a searchable database of state handgun carry permit holders.
■ The Argus Leader of Sioux Falls, S.D., for stories showing the
consolidation of casino licenses into the hands of a few main players.
■ The Victoria (Texas) Advocate for shedding light on a dysfunctional local judicial system.
■ The Daily News Journal of Murfreesboro, Tenn., for stories,
columns and editorials about a botched police investigation into a
fatal traffic accident in which an on-duty officer struck and killed an
11-year-old girl, then allegedly tried to dispose of two bottles of
liquor in his patrol cruiser.