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Buttry, Dreier earn SPJ Ethics in Journalism Awards for exceptional, ethical journalism


Abbi Martzall, SPJ Awards Coordinator, (317) 920-4791, amartzall@spj.org
Anna Gutierrez, SPJ Communications Coordinator, (317) 920-4785, agutierrez@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists is giving two Ethics in Journalism Awards to exceptional journalists. Steve Buttry, the former director of student media at the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University, is awarded posthumously. The other is awarded to Hannah Dreier, Venezuela correspondent for the Associated Press.

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.

Steve Buttry
Buttry pursued his journalism career in 44 states and at least 10 countries, taught and researched innovation for the American Press Institute and was recognized by Editor & Publisher as Editor of the Year in 2010. He worked in the industry for more than 40 years and lead discussions about the future of journalism on his blog, The Buttry Diary.

The Buttry Diary featured blog posts about digital-first journalism, journalism ethics, training and all things media related. Andy Schotz, SPJ Region 2 director, said Buttry’s blog posts were detailed, direct and thorough.

“Steve was exceptional in a number of ways, including his writing, his teaching and his baseball knowledge. One of his greatest traits, though, was his commitment to ethical journalism,” Schotz said.

Buttry went through waves of membership with SPJ, but continued to get involved throughout the years to make the Code of Ethics better. He provided critiques on his blog and discussed suggestions during the code revision process.

Buttry died Feb. 19. His life was dedicated to the news business. This award is being given for a lifetime of important contributions in the world of ethical journalism.

Hannah Dreier
With a media ban in hospitals and children dying without access to medicine, Hannah Dreier faced many ethical conflicts about whether to intervene, whether to name sources, whether to give identifying information on sources and whether to break difficult information to sources while reporting a series of stories, “Venezuela Undone,” about how the once oil-rich country of Venezuela is now falling apart.

There were many conversations and decisions about how to approach covering Venezuela’s crumbling medical system.

“We realized we would then have to balance the journalistic imperative to report without getting involved against the need to save a child. We decided it would be morally compromising to stand by impartially observing as a child died without trying to find the medicine the family needed. We couldn’t do it,” said Mary Rajkumar, The Associated Press International Enterprise Editor and “Venezuela Undone” series editor.

Throughout the entire project of stories, videos, opinion pieces and interactives, Dreier was meticulous in considering ethical issues she was facing in “Venezuela Undone.”

Dreier graduated from Wesleyan University in Connecticut, and spent the first years of her career at The San Jose Mercury News. She previously covered California state government and the business of gambling for AP.

A complete list of previous winners is available online.

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