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APME Announces Award Winners from 2013
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Michael Days, New Haven Register Selected As McGruder Award Winners

Michael Days, editor of the Philadelphia Daily News, and the New Haven Register are the recipients of the 13th annual Robert G. McGruder Award for Diversity Leadership, awarded by the Associated Press Media Editors in partnership with the American Society of News Editors and other journalism organizations.

Days and the Register were recognized Tuesday, Sept. 15 at the annual awards luncheon of the ASNE-APME conference at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Chicago.

The McGruder Award for Diversity Leadership is given annually to individuals, news organizations or teams of journalists who embody the spirit of McGruder, a former executive editor of the Detroit Free Press, managing editor of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland and a graduate of Kent State University. McGruder died of cancer in April 2002. A past president of APME and a former member of the board of directors of ASNE, McGruder was a relentless diversity champion. 

This year, the 13th annual McGruder awards were sponsored by the APME Foundation, ASNE, The Plain Dealer and Kent State University. Supporters include the Detroit Free Press, the Chips Quinn Scholars program of the Newseum Institute and Annette McGruder. The honorees will each receive $2,500 and a leadership trophy at the awards luncheon.

Days and the New Haven Register are being honored for their commitment to diversity in news content and in newsroom recruiting and staff development.

"This year's McGruder recipients have diligently and relentlessly made diversity a key priority in their newsrooms even as so many other urgent priorities pull for attention,'' said APME President Debra Adams Simmons. "We are proud to honor their work. Each of these news organizations faced considerable challenges during the past year, yet they held true to diversity as a core value. When we look at news developments around the nation and world, in Ferguson, Missouri, and in Israel, there is no question that diverse voices make us stronger and make us better."

In the nominating letter for Days, his colleagues wrote:  "These days, when covering basic news is a challenge, a commitment to diversity might be considered by some as a luxury, a fashionable trend we all pursued in better times. At the Daily News, diversity has never gone out of fashion.

"It is deeply embedded in our DNA, and Michael ensures that it remains critical and relevant," the nomination said. "Under Michael, the Daily News has become what may be one of the most diverse newsrooms in the industry, and both our day-to-day coverage and our daily discussions bear this out."

The Philadelphia Daily News newsroom is 22 percent minority, three of the paper's four regular columnists are women; of the 15 columnists across all departments, six are minorities, six are women. Readers of the newspaper are evenly divided between whites and non-whites. And of the non-white readers, 44 percent are African-American.

"Those are the data," the nomination said. "What is harder to quantify is the spirit of diversity that Michael encourages and inspires. Ours is a street-sales paper in a big city with many challenges, including poverty, a nearly bankrupt school system and a legacy of political corruption. In many ways we're a city of underdogs and one of our core missions is championing the underdog. We speak for the little guy, and constantly challenge the status quo — especially our own. Even our obituary page, a leader in the industry for transforming 'death notices' into a repository for human stories, reflects the full fabric of the city: janitors and grandmothers get the same treatment as political leaders and dignitaries."

Days fosters a sense of community partnership, making the Daily News a convener of conversations about President Barack Obama's "My Brother's Keeper" initiative and public education. And, he brokered a collaboration with Al Dia, Philadelphia's Spanish-language newspaper, to publish World Cup soccer sections at the beginning and end of the games. Reporters, editors and designers from both papers worked together to create bilingual sections that were published in both papers.

The New Haven Register's attempt to tackle the online comments on Web stories unveiled some important truths. The Register's nearly all-white newsroom three years ago, its unsuccessful attempts at recruiting and retention, and limited staff development were reflected in the paper's content and disconnect with readers. The newspaper developed an action plan and quickly got to work. In 2011, the New Haven Register and its sister publications in Connecticut had three minority journalists in its 120-person newsroom. In the spring of 2014, there were 15 minorities out of 100. Today, there 13 out of a staff of 83. The newspaper's leaders recruited staff members in non-traditional ways. For example, they identified a community member who was managing a cellphone store, active in a local mosque and volunteered at a food bank who had some experience writing for the Muslim Journal and connected him with the Chips Quinn Scholars program for training.  He is now the Register's community engagement editor. Within a year, they hired another fellow from the training program.

The New Haven Register also diversified its leadership team. And it encouraged risk-taking and debate within the newsroom. It now has frank discussions, and in one example published a story about the media attention generated by Sandy Hook compared with the sometimes limited coverage of gun violence in urban New Haven.

"Our approach over the past three years has been not just to report and offer options, but to engage and facilitate," the nomination said. "The Register is regularly an outlet that now helps the black community talk through and debate important issues."

The newspaper's front pages now include black and Hispanic faces in all kinds of news stories. It has developed community relationships; hosted live and online forums on education, violence, neighborhood redevelopment; hired a talented reporter from a sister publication, and came up with a new strategy for online comments — each comment is reviewed before it is posted. The paper stopped calling undocumented immigrants "illegal."  It also worked closely with Digital First corporate leaders and has placed 10 Chips Quinn scholars in Digital First Media newsrooms.

In his nomination, Matt DeRienzo, Group Editor of Connecticut Digital First Media, said the news group experienced a wake-up call: "We were limited by our own world view, our own life experiences and our own circle of friends and contacts, which were homogeneous. In that moment, we learned one of the most valuable things of all: we didn't, and couldn't, know many things about life in our community and country. If that was going to change, if we were to become a better newspaper, we would have to diversify our newsroom and the leadership of our newsroom. We decided it would be a top priority."

The 2014 judges included representatives from APME, ASNE, The Plain Dealer and Kent State University and previous recipients of the McGruder award. Jurors assessed nominees based on their significant contribution during a given year or over a number of years to furthering the cause of diversity in content and in recruiting, developing and retaining journalists of color.

APME Journalism Excellence Awards 

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's investigation of delays in newborn screening programs captured top honors in the annual Associated Press Media Editors’ Journalism Excellence Awards.

The newspaper’s "Deadly Delays” project won in three categories - Public Service, First Amendment and the Al Neuharth Award for Innovation in Investigative Journalism.

"APME salutes the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and all of this year's winners for the exemplary journalism being produced in newsrooms around the country," APME President Debra Adams Simmons said. "We are proud to celebrate journalism that changes lives. The news industry's commitment to solid public service journalism, defense of the First Amendment and digital storytelling is as strong as ever.”

The 2013 APME contest recognized news organizations in seven categories and AP staff members in separate judging.

"This is journalism with an exclamation mark,” the judges wrote in selecting the Journal Sentinel’s project for the 44thannual Public Service Best of Show award."What started as a data-driven project evolved into a momentous report filled with human dimension and a need for action.” The award, sponsored by the APME Foundation, carries a $1,500 prize.

The newspaper also won the Tom Curley First Amendment Sweepstakes Award for the project, which analyzed data nationwide on screening programs designed to detect rare diseases in newborns and found delays at hospitals in testing the results, putting infants at risk. The award, sponsored by the APME Foundation, carries a $1,000 prize.

"This is investigative journalism at its best, practiced by masters of the genre," said the judges in the First Amendment category.

The Gazette of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the Virgin Islands Daily News won Public Service awards in their circulation categories.

The Gazette was honored in the 40,000 to 149,000 circulation category for its reporting on how wounded combat veterans lose benefits after being discharged by the Army for minor offenses. "Powerful and beautifully told,’’ the judges said. "It stands up by every measure of journalism excellence we apply.”

The Daily News was recognized in the small circulation category for "EMS in Chaos,”a three-part series that revealed poor management in the Emergency Medical Service division on St. Thomas island.

"Once again the Virgin Islands’ staff shines with its tenacity and reporting,” said the judges, who noted the paper also won the Public Service award for its circulation category last year. It also won the Tom Curley First Amendment Sweepstakes award last year.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Colorado Springs Gazette were also honored in the Al Neuharth Award for Innovation in Investigative Journalism. Each will receive $2,500. The award is sponsored by the Gannett Foundation.

Other winners in the First Amendment category were the Herald-Tribune of Sarasota, Florida, in the medium circulation category, for its "Breaking the Banks” project about the failure of community banks in Florida and how local bankers shaped the crisis, and the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, in the small circulation category, for a series of stories and editorials on the University of Wyoming’s attempt to keep secret the hiring process for a new president.

The Wall Street Journal  was named Innovator of the Year, based on a vote by conference attendees who viewed presentations by it and the other two finalists, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, and The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch. The WSJ's entry was "Startup of the Year," a multimedia project that selected 24 entrepreneurs and paired them with noted business leaders to offer them guidance. The project involved extensive use of video, including online video chats between the participants. The WSJ will receive $1,000; the award was sponsored by GateHouse Media Inc.

Miami Herald photographer Al Diaz won the APME Member Showcase Photo of the Year. The Photo of the Year is chosen from among 12 winners of a monthly award for the best member showcase photo of the month, picked from all domestic member/client contributions.

Diaz was recognized for his dramatic photo of Pamela Rauseo, 37, performing  CPR on her nephew, five-month-old Sebastian de la Cruz, after pulling her SUV over on the side of a Florida highway. Judges wrote, "This incredible photo by Al Diaz stops you in your tracks and fills your heart with both panic and hope.  Diaz was in the right place at the right time.  His photo reminds us of the importance of knowing a life-saving response such as CPR."

 

USA Today was the winner of a new category, "Best Mobile Platform," for its mobile app.

APME also announced award winners in two other innovation categories as well as Digital Storytelling and International Perspective. Awards will be presented at the awards luncheon Sept. 16 during the ASNE-APME conference.

Judges did not participate in discussions or vote on categories involving their own news organizations’ entries.

APME is an association of editors and content leaders at newspapers, broadcast outlets and digital newsrooms as well as journalism educators and student leaders in the United States and Canada. APME works closely with The Associated Press to foster journalism excellence.

Here are the award winners:

44thAnnual Public Service:
• Winner of Public Service Best of Show and $1,500:Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Deadly Delays.”

Over 149,000 circulation:

• Winner: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Deadly Delays.”

• Honorable mention: The Washington Post, "Homes for the Taking,” which revealed abuses by investors and the loss of hundreds of properties in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, often over tax debts of just a few hundred dollars.

40,000 to 149,000 circulation:

• Winner: The Gazette, Colorado Springs, "Other Than Honorable.”

Honorable mention: Herald-Tribune, Sarasota, Fla., "Breaking the Banks.”

Under 40,000 circulation:

• Winner: Virgin Islands Daily News, "EMS in Chaos.”

• Honorable mentions: Times-News, Twin Falls, Idaho, "Never Again”, about wildland firefighting deaths; and The Daily Progress, Charlottesville, Va., "Inside ABC,” about abuses in the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control agency.

Judges: APME President Debra Adams Simmons, vice president of news development, Advance Local; Bob Heisse, editor, The Times Media Co.; Hollis Towns, executive editor, Asbury Park (N.J.) Press; Bill Church, executive editor, Herald-Tribune Media Group, Sarasota, Fla.; Aminda Marques Gonzalez, executive editor, The Miami Herald; Laura Sellers, managing editor, The Daily Astorian, Astoria, Ore.; Jim Simon, deputy managing editor, The Seattle Times; and Brian Carovillano, managing editor, U.S. news, The Associated Press.

44th Annual First Amendment Award and Citations

• Winner of the Tom Curley Sweepstakes Award and $1,000: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Deadly Delays.”

Over 149,000 circulation:

• Winner: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Deadly Delays.”

40,000-149,999 circulation

• Winner: Herald-Tribune, Sarasota, "Breaking the Banks.”

Honorable mention: The Gazette, Colorado Springs, Freedom of Information work on "Other than Honorable,” "Honor and Deception” and other projects.

Under 40,000 circulation:

• Winner: Wyoming Tribune Eagle.

• Honorable mention: The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla., for its work to gain access to public records held by the Lakeland Police Department.

Judges: Mark Baldwin, executive editor, Rockford (Ill.) Register Star, chairman; APME Vice President Alan Miller, managing editor, The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch; Teri Hayt, executive editor, The Canton (Ohio) Repository; and Tom Kent, deputy managing editor/standards editor, The Associated Press.

International Perspective Awards

Over 149,000 circulation:

• Winner: Seattle Times, "Sea Change,” about how acidification is disrupting the Pacific’s marine ecosystem far faster and on a far bigger scale than first predicted.

40,000 to 149,999 circulation:

• Winner: Portland (Maine) Press Herald, "Arctic Partnership,” about the economic impact for Portland and Maine of the decision by an Icelandic shipping company to move its North American headquarters to Portland.

Under 40,000 circulation:

• Winner: Times-News, Twin Falls, "At the Door,” about the rigorous training and eventual assignments of Mormon Church members as missionaries worldwide. It offered a rare look at how the missionaries’ personal lives change dramatically over the one-year assignment.

Judges: Gary Graham, editor, The Spokesman Review, Spokane, Wash., chairman; Thomas Koetting, assistant managing editor, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; and John Daniszewski, senior managing editor, international news, The Associated Press.

Digital Storytelling

Over 149,000 circulation:

• Winner: The Denver Post, "Chasing the Beast,” about a storm chaser’s ride through central Oklahoma during a tornado.

• Honorable mention: The Arizona Republic, "Alone on the Hill,” about the deaths of the Yarnell Hill firefighters.

40,000 to 149,999 circulation:

• Winner: Maine Sunday Telegram, "Challenge of our Age,” about the human impact of aging and how the state’s public and private agencies are poorly prepared to meet the needs of an aging population.

• Honorable mention: The Gazette, Colorado Springs, "Other Than Honorable.”

Under 40,000 circulation:

• Winner: Times-News, Twin Falls, "When the Smoke Clears,” about firefighter deaths in the West.

• Honorable mention: The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W. Va., "JFK: The Legacy Lives.”

Judges: APME Vice President Alan Miller, managing editor, The Columbus Dispatch, chairman; Alan English, executive editor/general manager, Shreveport (La.) Times; and Monica Richardson, managing editor, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Finalists for the Eighth Annual Innovator of the Year Award

• Herald-Tribune, Sarasota, "The Stolen Ones,” about sex trafficking of children in an underground economy.

• The Wall Street Journal, "Start-Up of the Year,” digital video offering, with a microsite, on 24 early-stage startups, which received mentoring from successful entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and business executives.

• The Columbus Dispatch, for its sustained enhanced format.

Judges: Joe Hight, editor, The Gazette, Colorado Springs, chairman; Meg Downey, former managing editor, The Tennessean, Nashville; George Rodrigue, managing editor, The Dallas Morning News; Linda Negro, managing editor, Evansville (Ind.) Courier & Press; and Alison Gerber, editor, Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times Free Press.

Third Annual Innovator of the Year Award for College Students

• Winner: Department of Journalism, College of Media, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, for its mobile app "Virtual Dugout,”which allows fans to follow the university’s baseball team.

Judges: Chris Cobler, editor, Victoria (Texas) Advocate, chairman; Angie Muhs, executive editor, The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Ill.; Autumn Phillips, editor, Times-News, Twin Falls.

Fourth Annual Al Neuharth Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism

75,000 circulation and below:

• Winner: The Gazette, Colorado Springs, "Other Than Honorable.”

• Honorable Mention: Herald-Tribune, Sarasota, "Breaking the Banks.”

Above 75,000 circulation:

• Winner: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Deadly Delays.”

• Honorable mention: The Washington Post, for its disclosures of secret surveillance by the National Security Agency.

Judges: Sellers, chairman; Simmons; and Sonny Albarado, projects editor, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. 

Best Mobile Platform

• Winner: USA Today, for its mobile platform.

• Honorable mention: Knoxville News (Tenn.) Sentinel, for its iPad app.

Judges: Downey, chairman; Graham, and Church.

AP Staff Awards 2013

Coverage of the Moore, Oklahoma, tornado and the Newtown, Connecticut, school shootings won awards for deadline reporting and feature writing from the Associated Press Media Editors for journalism excellence by AP staffers.

The AP’s investigation of the disappearance of CIA contractor Robert Levinson in Iran in 2007 —  and its decision to publish the story last year •  was honored in the enterprise category.

In selecting the Moore tornado coverage, the judges said, "The reporting was detailed, fast-paced and accurate •  breaking news coverage as it should be done.” The AP, they said, "owned the story, with vivid photos, arresting interviews with survivors and aggressive questions for authorities who acknowledged they had botched the casualty count.”

Christopher Sullivan of the Newsfeatures staff won the feature writing award for "Newtown Marches Again.” The judges said he captured "the struggles and resilience of the Labor Day parade committee in Newtown, a community struggling to find its footing” after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which claimed 26 lives.

Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo, formerly of the Washington bureau, and editors of the AP were cited for their coverage of the Levinson disappearance. 

"In a very competitive category, this entry stood above the rest because of the difficulty of reporting because of the tenacity, patience and courage that was needed to publish this story,” the judges wrote. "The story is a gripping narrative that reads like a spy novel.” Goldman is now with The Washington Post, and Apuzzo with The New York Times.

Four staffers were honored with the Charles Rowe Award for distinguished state reporting for their coverage of the California prison system. California AP created a prison team of Paul Elias in San Francisco, Gillian Flaccus in Orange County and Don Thompson in Sacramento, overseen by Sacramento correspondent Tom Verdin.

"This is an engaging and monumental work by a newly created reporting team that provided important coverage for California’s AP members and their audience,” the judges said. "It is mind-boggling the scope of the problems uncovered by this team. The sweep of these issues continues to grow as stories are uncovered.”

Photographer Sergei Grits, based in Belarus, won the News Single Photo award for his image of a Ukrainian demonstrator setting off a Molotov cocktail in a slingshot. "This dramatic image captures the passion of the protesters in Ukraine,” the judges said. "This moment amid chaos is a vivid metaphor for the crisis.”

Photographer Jerome Delay was honored with the News Story Photo award for his series on the fighting in the Central African Republic where he is based. "The dedication of (Delay) to seek out and record these ‘found moments’ is exemplary,” the judges wrote. "The images show the complexity of life amid civil war in the Central African Republic.”

Jerusalem photographer Sebastian Scheiner won the Feature Single Photo award for his image of Palestinians living in a cave after their house was demolished by Israeli authorities. "The subject matter combined with the creative composition sets this photo apart.”

Rodrigo Abd, a photographer based in Lima, Peru, was honored with the Feature Story Photo award for his story on exhumations from Peru’s 1980-2000 conflict. "These images convey a cohesive story arch, one of the agonizing emotional toll taken on the families of victims of the conflict,” the judges said.

Nathan Griffiths, Nicholas Harbaugh, Kevin Viney, Peter Hamlin and Roque Ruiz were awarded the Best Use of Multimedia for their interactives on the U.S. healthcare overhaul. Their interactives, the judges said, "were simple to follow and allowed each reader to personalize the information •  an amazing feat given the complexity of the law.”

The Best in Video award was given to Al-emrun Garjon of New Delhi for his coverage of the collapse of a Bangladesh factory. The judges said Garjon provided amazing shots of not only destruction but survival as well. ... It was a powerful work from start to finish.”

Adriana Gomez Licon of Mexico City won the John L. Dougherty prize for exemplary work by an AP staff member who is 30 years old or younger. The judges said she "is a compelling storyteller, who uses in-depth reporting and telling details to powerful effect.” Her work included a piece on the death of a beauty queen caught up in the nation’s drug wars.

APME is an association of editors and content leaders at newspapers, broadcast outlets and digital newsrooms as well as journalism educators and student leaders in the United States and Canada. APME works closely with The Associated Press to foster journalism excellence.

The judges also awarded the following honorable mentions:

• Deadline Reporting: the coverage of the death of Yarnell firefighters in Arizona and the coverage of the manhunt for former Los Angeles policeman Christopher Dorner.

Judges: Kurt Franck, executive editor, The Blade, Toledo, Ohio, chairman; Michael Days, editor, Philadelphia Daily News; and Mark Baldwin, executive editor, Rockford (Ill.) Register Star.

• Enterprise Reporting: Karin Laub and Mohammed Daraghmeh, based in Ramallah in the West Bank, for Mideast reporting; and Adriana Gómez Licón of Mexico, Natacha Pisarenko and Michael Warren of Buenos Aires, Juan Zamorano of Panama, and Michael Weissenstein of Mexico City for their Latin America consumer watchdog series.

 Judges: Angie Muhs, executive editor, The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Ill., chairman; Autumn Phillips, editor, Times-News, Twin Falls, Idaho; and Laura Sellers, managing editor, The Daily Astorian, Astoria, Oregon.

• Feature Writing: Alberto Arce, based in Mexico City, for "Surviving in Honduras,” a series of stories about surviving violence and poverty in a country in crisis.

Judges: Bill Church, executive editor, Herald-Tribune Media Co., Sarasota, Fla., chairman; Dennis Anderson, executive editor, Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star; and Aminda Marques Gonzalez, executive editor, The Miami Herald. 

• John L. Dougherty Award: Nataliya Vasilyeva, in Moscow, for her reporting on the human and environmental cost of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, and Ashley Thomas, weekend supervisor on the East desk in Philadelphia.

 Judges: Jim Simon, deputy managing editor, The Seattle Times, chairman; Monica Richardson, managing editor, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; and Sonny Albarado, projects editor, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

• Best Use of Multimedia: Nathan Griffiths and Peter Santilli, for interactives on the aging population worldwide.

Judges: Days, chairman; Teri Hayt, executive editor, The Canton (Ohio) Repository; and Alan English, executive editor/general manager, Shreveport (La.) Times.

• Best Use of Video: Raul Gallego, based in Bangkok, for "Myanmar In Transition.”

 Judges: Monica Richardson, managing editor, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, chairman; Eric Ludgood, assistant news director, WAGA-TV, Fox 5 News; and Greg Peppers, executive producer of radio and audio, The Associated Press.

• Charles Rowe Award for distinguished state reporting: Rebecca Boone, based in Boise, for stories on a privately run prison in Idaho, and Tom Lobiano, based in Indianapolis, for his watchdog work.

Judges: Anderson, chairman; Chris Cobler, editor, Victoria (Texas) Advocate; and Thomas Koetting, assistant managing editor, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

• News Single Photo: Santi Palacios, for a migrant trying to scale a border fence into the Spanish enclave of Melilla from Morocco.

•  New Story Photo: David Guttenfelder, of Tokyo, for a series on Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

• Feature Single Photo: Ben Curtis of Nairobi for orphaned elephants getting a dust bath.

• Feature Story Photo: Daniel Ochoa de Olza of Madrid for a series of portraits of bullfighters.

Photo judges: Debra Adams Simmons, vice president of news development, Advance Local; Alan Miller, managing editor, The Columbus Dispatch; Hayt; Sellers; Simon; and Luanne Dietz, photo editor, The San Francisco Chronicle.

Associated Press Media Editors

APME is a professional network, a resource for helping editors and broadcasters improve their news coverage and newsroom operations.

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