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Mark Woods receives $75,000 Pulliam Fellowship for Editorial Writing


For Immediate Release

Lauren Rochester, SPJ Awards Coordinator, (317) 927-8000 ext. 210,
Abby Henkel, SPJ Communications Coordinator, (317) 927-8000 ext. 215,

INDIANAPOLIS—Mark Woods, a columnist for The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, Fla., has been awarded the Eugene C. Pulliam Fellowship for Editorial Writing.

He will use the fellowship to visit and study national parks over the next year. His project is aimed at bringing to life the challenges faced by parks as diverse as Yosemite and the National Mall — from crumbling infrastructure to overuse, pollution, climate change and pressure from encroaching civilization.

Presented by the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, the educational arm of the Society of Professional Journalists, the fellowship awards $75,000 each year to an outstanding editorial writer or columnist to help broaden his or her journalistic horizons and knowledge of the world. The award can be used to cover the cost of study, research and travel. The fellowship results in editorials and other writings, including books.

The judges were impressed by Woods’ skills as a storyteller, and expressed confidence that he will add an important voice to the conversation on the future of national parks. As Woods explains, “Few things in America are as beloved as our national parks. And yet as we approach the centennial of the National Park Service, there are so many issues, so many questions.

“My goal isn't to tell the story of those first 100 years. Ken Burns already has done a masterful job of that in his documentary, ‘The National Parks: America's Best Idea.’ My goal is to tell some of the stories shaping the national parks today -- and examine what is going to happen to that idea in the next 100 years.”

“His plan is pretty ambitious,” said Todd Gillman, Washington Bureau chief of The Dallas Morning News, former Sigma Delta Chi president, and chairman of the four-judge panel. “Trying to push the issue out of the sepia-toned Ken Burns world and into the future won't be easy. But it would be great to figure out what could happen — and what should happen — with these treasures over the next century.”

Jim Dwyer, metro columnist at The New York Times, won the 2010 fellowship and helped select this year's winner. “The guy is so good. And he has such a fresh way of looking at things. I was just thrilled by the way he plans to move the discussion forward,” Dwyer said.

Woods’ application was one of 30 entries from editorial writers, columnists and freelancers. “The judges were impressed at the passion and creativity on display. It's great to know there are so many talented people out there,” Gillman noted.

Gillman and Dwyer were joined on the judges’ panel by Al Leeds, President and Editorial Director
The Washington Post News Service with Bloomberg News, and Bob Davis, executive director for the Anniston (Ala.) Star and treasurer/secretary for the National Conference of Editorial Writers.

Mark Woods has covered the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the war in Iraq and Wimbledon. He has reported on three Olympic Games, 11 Super Bowls, Democratic and Republican national conventions and Hurricane Katrina. Woods’ recent awards include selection as a finalist in the humor column category for the National Society of Newspaper Columnists (2011), first place for commentary from the Florida Press Club (2009), first place for serious columns from the Florida Awards for Excellence (2009), and top 10 in the nation of mid-size papers from Associated Press Sports Editors (2001 and 2002).

Woods will be honored Sept. 17 during the 2011 National Conference of Editorial Writers Convention in Indianapolis. Click here to learn more about the award and see a list of previous winners.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information on SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.


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