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|Newspapers recognized for journalism excellence|
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 Editors Association.
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 Counties.
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' entries.
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 global training.
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 award.
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.
■ 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.
■ Las Vegas Sun, for a cutting-edge multimedia presentation and interactive database exploring a serious water shortage in the Las Vegas valley.
■ 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.
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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.