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Three individuals win SPJ Ethics in Journalism Award



Abbi Martzall, SPJ Awards Coordinator, (317) 920-4791,
Maggie LaMar, SPJ Communications Coordinator, (317) 920-4785,

INDIANAPOLIS — Samantha Grant and GUSH Productions, Bob Bajek and Douglas Ray and the staff of the Gainesville Sun have received the Ethics in Journalism Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for their ethical journalism practices.

The Ethics in Journalism Award honors journalists or news organizations that perform in an outstanding ethical manner demonstrating the ideals of the SPJ Code of Ethics.

Samantha Grant and GUSH Productions
Samantha Grant’s documentary “A Fragile Trust” revealed how the Jayson Blair scandal affected not only The New York Times, but also how journalism ethics should be discussed.

She was nominated for this award by Scott Leadingham. Leadingham says that Grant’s documentary “delved deeply into what happened, highlighting issues not previously reported, while prompting important discussions about why and how something like that happened at the Times. The film wasn’t just a re-hashing of old events, but a truly cautionary tale, and an educational resource with necessary lessons for all journalists – and the public at large.”

Bob Bajek
Christine Walsh, editor of the County Star, nominated her former The News-Gazette Community Newspapers colleague Bob Bajek for his “continuous commitment to seeking the truth and reporting it, particularly while writing an investigative series about contamination on the former Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul.”

Bajek fulfills his duty as a journalist to be a watchdog over the government and military. He shows compassion when reporting and remains fair and accurate.

Douglas Ray and the staff of the Gainesville Sun
Douglas Ray and the staff of the Gainesville Sun have won this award because of their new policy on how they handle crime reporting. Cory Emanuel nominated the group and says this new policy is the “best balance that I have come across to date between SPJs ‘seek the truth and report it’ principle and ‘minimizing harm’ principle.”

Their policy includes mugshots cycling off the site after 90 days and tagging stories so they don’t appear on major search engines, upon request. The stories will still be available on the news website. Ray believes that young indiscretions shouldn’t ruin a person’s life, which is why he believes in their new policy.

Last year’s Ethics in Journalism Award winners were Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman and Ted Bridis for their in-depth investigation of a missing American who disappeared in 2007 while working for the CIA – something unknown to the public. A complete list of previous winners is available online.

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


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