By Tom Bennett
Atlanta, May 16, 2005 -- Susanna Capelouto of Georgia Public Broadcasting has won overall honors in the Society of Professional Journalists' 55th Green Eyeshade Awards, including a cash prize of $1,000.
Capelouto was honored at a May 14 banquet here for her radio reports on incarceration of juveniles at the Georgia Department of Corrections' Lee Arrendale Prison in Alto, Ga. Her reporting grew out of a study of conditions there by the Southern Center for Human Rights. Capelouto was then a 10-year veteran reporter. She now is news director of Georgia Public Broadcasting Radio.
"It took about a month to do the story," she said.
" I love SPJ," Capelouto said when she received her prize. "This is the big one. This is the (best of the) Southeast."
Her work also won top honors in Radio this year in Green Eyeshade competition. The other division winners are:
-- Print, Bill Jensen of Miami New Times, "Hardcore and bleeding:, virtual love and death in Miami," about an unsolved murder. Bill Jensen is editor of the Long Island Free Press in New York. He wrote this story for Miami New Times as a freelancer because he knows parties in the case. "He apologizes for not being able to attend the banquet, because basically he couldn't afford it," said Jim Mullin, editor of Miami New Times.
-- Television, Laurie Stein, Shannon High-Bassalik and Jeremy Fisher of WFOR-TV in Miami, for the documentary "Living beyond breast cancer"; and
-- Online, staff of The Commercial Appeal, Memphis for "50 years of rock," about rock ‘n’ roll music in the city that has been home to Elvis Presley and other top musicians.
There were 449 entries this year in the competition for journalists in the 11 southern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. All were represented in the contest.
The finalists included journalists in Atlanta, Charlotte, Columbia, Fort Lauderdale, Lexington, Little Rock, Miami, Memphis, Mobile , Orlando, Paducah, St. Petersburg, Tampa, West Palm Beach and Winston-Salem.
Parisa Khosravi, vice president of international newsgathering for the CNN News Group, was the guest speaker and recalled an incident when she had scheduled a meetings in Rome with the president of Iran immediately after a private mass at the Vatican led by the Pope.. She made both events, thanks to quick schedule changes by the Iranian government.
The 55th awards program was held in the top floor banquet room of Georgia Building Authority's Floyd Building, overlooking the state capitol.
All of the judging was by journalists from outside the region, said Terry Harper, executive director of SPJ.
SPJ was formed in 1909 to increase freedom of information and make sure newspapers are ethical. As journalism has been overwhelmed by a crisis of distrust growing out of plagiarism and concocted stories, SPJ has been one of the organizations stressing news ethics the most.
Holly Fisher of Charleston, S.C., is SPJ's Region Three director. Julie Hairston of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is president of the Atlanta Pro chapter.
When this competition began in 1950, the Atlanta journalists founding it decided to give it the name of the visor worn by editors to protect eyesight and diffuse light in poorly-lit newsrooms of the 20th Century. The symbol of the competition is a drawing of a veteran editor seated at a desk wearing one of the visors, and wielding a quill. At his feet rests an alert, loyal canine.
The SPJ national headquarters staff and the Atlanta pro chapter thank the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for sponsorship of the 2005 banquet.
Soon to retire, Tom Bennett of the AJC is an SPJ member and Georgia sunshine chair.