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SPJ Announces Recipients of 2002 Sigma Delta Chi Awards


Bobby Deckard, SPJ awards coordinator, 317/927-8000 ext. 215 or bdeckard@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS - The Society of Professional Journalists today announces the recipients of the 2002 Sigma Delta Chi Awards for Excellence in Journalism.

In the 2002 contest, 49 winners were named from more than 1,300 entries. A complete list of winners follows.

“These awards honor the best in journalism. These journalists told their readers and viewers what they needed to know about snipers in the D.C. area, about abuses within the Catholic Church and about fires sweeping across Colorado,” said Robert Leger, SPJ president and editorial page editor at the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader. “They told important stories, told them well and made a difference. They are an inspiration to all of us.”

The Society’s first national awards honoring excellence in journalism were presented in 1932 to six individuals for contributing to “the dignity and responsibility to the profession of journalism.” In 1939, Sigma Delta Chi, forerunner of SPJ, established the first Distinguished Service Awards competition. These awards later became the Sigma Delta Chi Awards for Excellence in Journalism.

The awards will be presented July 11 at a banquet at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Many of the award winners will be invited to participate in future SPJ professional development programs to discuss their work. This summer, winning entries, many in their entirety, will be showcased online in SPJ’s Gallery of Winners.

Contest judges are selected from among the Society’s members and from non-members across the nation, each of whom has established a reputation for journalistic excellence in his or her own right.



Deadline Reporting (circulation of 100,000 or greater): “D.C. Sniper coverage,” Staff of The Seattle Times. In-depth coverage of the arrests of suspects in the Beltway Sniper case.

Deadline Reporting (circulation of less than 100,000): “Tragedy on the Ice,” Staff of The Eagle-Tribune in North Andover, Mass. Breaking coverage of the drowning of four boys in the Merrimack River.

Non-Deadline Reporting (circulation of 100,000 or greater): “All Nine Alive,” Pittsburgh (Pa.) Post-Gazette All Nine Alive Team. Coverage of the rescue of nine miners trapped underground for three days in the Quecreek Mine.

Non-Deadline Reporting (circulation of less than 100,000): “Breaking the Silence,” Catherine Ann Velasco of The Herald News in Joliet, Ill. A four-part series on teen-age suicide.

Investigative Reporting (circulation of 100,000 or greater): “Crisis in the Catholic Church,” Staff of The Boston Globe. Coverage of sexual abuse by priests and the resulting impact on the Roman Catholic Church.

Investigative Reporting (circulation of less than 100,000): “Bitter Harvest,” Mike Lee of the Tri-City Herald in Kennewick, Wash. Investigation of a series of deaths, environmental damage and accidents that were traced back to the largest organic farm in Washington state.

Feature Writing (circulation of 100,000 or greater): “Kaden Cook,” Jeff Seidel of the Detroit Free Press. Serial narrative about a family’s angst over their child’s heart condition and his need for a transplant.

Feature Writing (circulation of less than 100,000): “Day Zero,” Todd C. Frankel of The Herald in Everett, Wash. The story of a family’s struggle to stay together when they learn their young son has cancer.

Editorial Writing: Linda Valdez of The Arizona Republic in Phoenix. Editorials on illegal immigrants and the state’s flawed legal system.

Washington Correspondence: “Yucca Mountain,” Benjamin Grove of the Las Vegas Sun in Henderson, Nev. Coverage of the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository.

Foreign Correspondence: “Mexico: Outside the Law,” Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan of The Washington Post in Washington, D.C. Exposé on Mexico’s criminal justice system and its impact on residents’ lives.

General Column Writing: Steve Duin of The Oregonian in Portland, Ore.

Sports Column Writing: Ian O’Connor of The Journal News in White Plains, N.Y.

Public Service (circulation of 100,000 or greater): “Clemency in Illinois,” Staff of the Chicago Tribune. Comprehensive coverage of flaws in Illinois’ death penalty.

Public Service (circulation of less than 100,000): “Missionary Ridge Fire,” Staff of The Durango (Colo.) Herald. Extensive coverage of a fire that burned for 39 days and blackened 110 square miles of Colorado land.


Magazine Writing: “The 9/11 Kid,” Jodie Morse of TIME Magazine. Story of a 12-year-old girl coming to terms with her father’s death in the attack on the World Trade Center.

Public Service in Magazine Journalism: “Complicity,” Staff of The Hartford (Conn.) Courant. An examination of Connecticut’s history and of prominent families and institutions and their link to slavery.

Magazine Investigative Reporting: “Look Who’s Cashing in At Indian Casinos,” Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele of TIME Magazine.


Photography Spot News: “Church of the Nativity: In the Center of the Siege,” Carolyn Cole of the Los Angeles Times. Exclusive photographs from inside the Bethlehem church where Palestinians had taken refuge in the face of advancing Israeli soldiers.

Photography Features: “Iowa’s County Fairs 2002,” Staff of The Des Moines (Iowa) Register. A photographic record of Iowa life captured through the state’s 100 county fairs.

Photography Sports: “Olympic Moments,” The Associated Press. Photographic images of the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Photo Illustration: “Charles in Charge,” Walter Iooss Jr. and Steve Fine of Sports Illustrated in New York. Portrait of a locked and chained former NBA star Charles Barkley.

Editorial Cartooning: Mike Thompson of the Detroit Free Press.

Informational Graphics: “Motor Racing,” Karl Gelles, Frank Pompa, Joan Murphy and Larry Marshak of USA Today. Series of full-page graphics detailing various aspects of NASCAR and Indy-car motor sports.


Breaking News Reporting: “Minnesota Senate Race,” Minnesota Public Radio Newsroom in St. Paul, Minn. Breaking and follow-up coverage of the plane crash that killed U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone.

Investigative Reporting: “Day Care Criminals,” Steve Miller of WBBM Newsradio 780 in Chicago. Series of reports on day care home licensees who are convicted criminals.

Feature Reporting: “The Washington Opera Goes to Japan,” David Furst of WAMU 88.5 FM in Washington, D.C. Story of the Washington Opera’s first major international tour.

Documentaries: “We Were on Duty,” Richard Paul of Soundprint in Laurel, Md. Story of the attack on the Pentagon in the words and emotions of those who were there and lived to describe it.

Public Service in Radio Journalism: “A Place for Me: Adoption and Foster Care,” Vincent Duffy and Mark Urycki of WKSU-FM in Kent, Ohio. A 10-day series about issues affecting adoption and foster care in Ohio.


Breaking News Coverage (Network/Top 25 Markets): “Senator Wellstone’s Death,” KSTP-TV Eyewitness News Staff in St. Paul, Minn. Comprehensive and timely coverage of the U.S. senator’s death in a plane crash and the campaign that followed.

Breaking News Coverage (All other markets): “Elizabeth Smart Kidnapping,” Staff of KSL-TV in Salt Lake City. Coverage of the kidnapping of the 14-year-old from her home in the early morning hours.

Investigative Reporting (Network/Top 25 Markets): “Evidence of Errors,” Anna Werner, David Raziq, Chris Henao and Mike T. Devlin of KHOU-TV in Houston. An investigation that discovered an entire police crime lab had for years been making mistakes that sent the innocent to prison and perhaps even to death row.

Investigative Reporting (All other markets): “Friends in High Places,” Phil Williams and Bryan Staples of WTVF-TV in Nashville, Tenn. A seven-month investigation into how Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist’s closest supporters landed millions of dollars in state contracts.

Feature Reporting (Network/Top 25 Markets): “The Thin Man,” Jane Pauley, correspondent; Benita Noel, producer; David Corvo, executive producer of Dateline NBC. A report chronicling TV weatherman Al Roker’s painful struggle with weight and why he ultimately turned to risky surgery to get it under control.

Feature Reporting (All other markets): “Traffic of Tears,” Leta Hong Fincher and Kathleen Schrader of Voice of America Television in Washington, D.C. A compelling and rare look at China and the victims of cross-border trafficking.

Documentaries (Network/Top 25 Markets): “9/11,” CBS in New York. An exclusive, insider’s account of the World Trade Center attack.

Documentaries (All other markets): “Critical Condition,” Hagit Limor, Michael Benedic, Bob Morford and Phyllis Parker of WCPO-TV in Cincinnati. Investigation into area doctors who are woefully underpaid because of insurance company reimbursements and its ultimate affect on the quality of local health care.

Public Service in Television Journalism (Network/Top 25 Markets): “Prisoner of Progress,” Bob Arya and John Loboda of CLTV News in Chicago. A report on the overpopulation and rundown conditions of a Kane County (Ill.) jail.

Public Service in Television Journalism (All other markets): “Speak Up New York!” Matthew O’Neill, Justin Krebs, Eric Levine and Jon Alpert of Downtown Community Television Center in New York. A news broadcast designed to educate and engage New York youth in upcoming local and state elections.


Public Service in Newsletter Journalism: “WorldCom Holds Billions in Credits,” Jonathan Stern of The Telecom Manager’s Voice Report in Rockville, Md. The story that uncovered billions of dollars in fraudulent bookkeeping at WorldCom.


Research About Journalism: “The Penalty is Death,” Marlin Shipman of University of Missouri Press in Columbia, Mo. A book on how the newspaper press has reported on the executions of women in the United States from 1847 to present.


Deadline Reporting (Affiliated): “Mt. Hood Chopper Crash,” Staff of KGW.com in Portland, Ore. Breaking coverage of a military helicopter crash on Oregon’s Mt. Hood during a rescue effort in the spring of 2002.

Deadline Reporting (Independent): “Excite@Home Winds Down,” Dawn Kawamoto, John Borland and Rachel Konrad of CNET News.com in San Francisco. Online coverage marking the final chapter for computer networking giant Excite.

Non-Deadline Reporting (Affiliated): “Enrique’s Journey,” Sonia Nazario and Don Bartletti of the Los Angeles Times. The story of a Honduran teen-ager’s repeated efforts to reunite with his mother in the United States.

Non-Deadline Reporting (Independent): “What’s Happening to Our Kids?” Staff of WebMD in Atlanta. Providing facts and reliable help for parents of children diagnosed with bipolar disorder, anxiety or depression.

Investigative Reporting (Affiliated): “Blood on the Rings,” Tom Farrey of ESPN.com. An investigation into allegations of various forms of abuse by the Iraqi Olympic Committee.

Investigative Reporting (Independent): “Making a Killing: The Business of War,” International Consortium of Investigative Journalists of the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C. A series investigating the economics of conflict in the post-Cold War era and the groups who profit from the business of war.

Public Service in Online Journalism (Affiliated): “The Lure of Online Auctions,” Bob Sullivan and Mike Brunker of MSNBC.com in Redmond, Wash. Part of a continuing series on online consumer fraud.

Public Service in Online Journalism (Independent): “State Secrets: An Investigation of Political Party Money in the States,” Mary Jo Sylwester, Leah Rush, John Dunbar and Robert Moore of The Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C. A nationwide investigation of money in state politics.

The Society of Professional Journalists works to improve and protect journalism. The organization is the nation’s largest and most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. 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.

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