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SPJ Announces Recipients of 2003 Sigma Delta Chi Awards


Julie Grimes, deputy director, 317/927-8000 ext. 216 or jgrimes@spj.org
Gail Kiles, assistant director of programs, 317/927-8000 ext. 204 or gkiles@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS - The Society of Professional Journalists today announces the recipients of the 2003 Sigma Delta Chi Awards for Excellence in Journalism.

In the 2003 contest, 49 winners were named from more than 1,350 entries. A complete list of winners follows.

“When talented journalists set out to tell compelling stories, regardless of the medium or the size of the media outlet, they serve the public and help sharply define the value of the First Amendment and freedom of information,” said Mac McKerral, SPJ president. “They also teach other journalists at all levels how they can do their jobs better.

"Any of these things individually deserves a high-level of recognition. But collectively, they deserve the highest level of recognition. And that's a Sigma Delta Chi Award. Great journalists don't strive to win awards. They strive to tell great stories. When they do, the awards come automatically."

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 9th at a banquet at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. This summer, winning entries, many in their entirety, will be showcased online in SPJ’s Gallery of Winners.

Contest judges are journalists from across the country, each of whom has established a reputation for journalistic excellence in his or her own right.

The Society of Professional Journalists works to improve and protect journalism. SPJ is dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, and based in Indianapolis, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed public, works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists, and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.


Newspapers/Wire Services

Deadline Reporting (circulation of 100,000 or greater): “The Columbia Disaster,” The Staff of Orlando Sentinel in Orlando, Fla. The collective work of 66 reporters, photographers, and graphic artists covering the shuttle disaster.

Deadline Reporting (circulation of less than 100,000): “The Road to Baghdad: A Casualty of War,” Joseph Giordono of Stars and Stripes in Washington D.C. Embedded account of one Infantry’s first 24 hours at war in Iraq.

Non-Deadline Reporting (circulation of 100,000 or greater): “Butterfly on a Bullet,” Robert Lee Hotz of the Los Angeles Times. In-depth analysis revealing Columbia’s mechanical flaws.

Non-Deadline Reporting (circulation of less than 100,000): “Love Hurts: The Challenge of Being a Burn Nurse,” Andrea Gurwitt of the Herald News in West Paterson, N.J. Explores the working life of pediatric burn nurses.

Investigative Reporting (circulation of 100,000 or greater): “Buried Secrets, Brutal Truths,” Michael D. Sallah, Mitch Weiss and Joe Mahr of The Toledo Blade in Toledo, Ohio. Uncovered war crimes of Tiger Force, an elite Army unit in Vietnam.

Investigative Reporting (circulation of less than 100,000): “Murder, Race, Justice: The State vs. Darryl Hunt,” Phoebe Zerwick of the Winston-Salem Journal in Winston-Salem, N.C. Eight-part narrative brought unprecedented insight to a 20 year controversy.

Feature Writing (circulation of 100,000 or greater): “Shane Comes Home,” Rinker Buck of The Hartford Courant in Hartford, Conn. Tribute to the first Marine lost in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Feature Writing (circulation of less than 100,000): “Desolation Row,” Tony Hopfinger of Anchorage Press in Anchorage, Alaska. Profiles the life and suicide of legendary outdoorsman Dr. Andy Embick.

Editorial Writing: “The Water Barons,” Tom Philp of The Sacramento Bee in Sacramento, Calif. More than 20 editorials that exposed statewide abuses in California’s water district.

Washington Correspondence: “Unsafe Saviors,” Lisa Zagaroli & April Taylor of The Detroit News in Detroit, Mich. Comprehensive investigation into poor ambulance design and regulations.

Foreign Correspondence: Series from inside Iraq, Robert Collier of San Francisco Chronicle. News-breaking exclusives from inside the war.

General Column Writing: A collection of columns by John Kass of Chicago Tribune. Insights on working-class struggles and corruption.

Sports Column Writing: Sports columns by Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post. Connects various sports to worldly issues.

Public Service (circulation of 100,000 or greater): “Profiting from Public Service,” The Staff of Gannett New Jersey Newspapers in Neptune, N.J. Collaborative effort to uncover wrongdoings of elected officials.

Public Service (circulation of less than 100,000): “Deadly Force,” Lee Williams of The Virgin Islands Daily News. Investigates the use of deadly force by Virgin Islands Police Department.


Magazine Writing: “Lost Girls,” Joan Ryan of San Francisco Chronicle. Looks into the lives and treatment of two juvenile justice system repeat offenders.

Public Service in Magazine Journalism: “Is Your Job Next?” and “The Rise of India,” Pete Engardio, Manjeet Kripalani & Aaron Bernstein of BusinessWeek in New York, N.Y. Migration of white collar jobs overseas.

Magazine Investigative Reporting: “Triple Cross,” Chitra Ragavan of U.S. News & World Report in Washington D.C. Examines the case between Katrina Leung and the FBI.


Photography Spot News: “The War in Iraq,” Carolyn Cole and Rick Loomis of the Los Angeles Times. Captures the experience of ordinary people and soldiers on both sides of war.

Photography Features: “Culture of Violence,” Rodrigo Abd of the Associated Press in New York, N.Y. This series of striking images displays the prominent violence in Guatemala.

Photography Sports: “Facemask,” John Beale of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in Pittsburgh, Pa. Split-second shot of Antwaan Randle El’s head painfully twisted backward.

Photo Illustration: “Senior Standouts,” Andrea Levy of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio. Colorful butterfly with poetry, music notes and formulas on the wings.

Editorial Cartooning: A collection of cartoons by Steve Sack of Minneapolis Star Tribune in Minneapolis, Minn. A collection of vivid and witty political depictions.

Informational Graphics: “Running Dry,” Michael Hall of Rocky Mountain News in Denver, Colo. Detailed graphics illustrate Denver’s water supply issues.


Breaking News Reporting: “Bugging the Mayor,” Brad Linder of WHYY in Philadelphia, Pa. Coverage and analysis of Mayor’s federal investigation and re-election.

Investigative Reporting: “Handshake Hotels,” Andrea Bernstein and Amy Eddings of WNYC New York Public Radio in New York, N.Y. A report on the costs and processes involved in temporary placement for New York’s homeless.

Feature Reporting: “Colorado River Delta,” Ilsa Setziol of KPCC 89.3 FM in Pasadena, Calif. Explains effects of U.S. water policies on the Colorado River.

Documentaries: “Movin’ Out the Bricks,” Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister of WBEZ Chicago Public Radio in Chicago, Ill. One woman’s first-person account of the effects of Chicago’s plan to relocate 25,000 public housing residents.

Public Service in Radio Journalism: “Radio Rookies,” WNYC’s Radio Rookies of WNYC New York Public Radio in New York, N.Y. Stories produced by local teenagers about themselves and their communities.


Breaking News Coverage (Network/Top 25 Markets): “Columbia Disaster,” Dan Billow and WESH-TV News Staff of WESH-TV in Orlando, Fla. Continuous coverage of unfolding Columbia tragedy.

Breaking News Coverage (All other markets): “Firestorm 2003,” The Staff of KGTV in San Diego, Calif. Live coverage, relief efforts, and one family’s losses in San Diego County fires.

Investigative Reporting (Network/Top 25 Markets): “Honor and Betrayal: Scandal at the Academy,” Kurt Silver, Jason Foster, John Ferrugia and Jeff Harris of KMGH-TV in Denver, Colo. Revealing stories of rape and sexual assault at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Investigative Reporting (All other markets): “Perks of Power: The UT President,” Phil Williams & Bryan Staples of WTVF-TV in Nashville, Tenn. The report exposed the UT President’s professional abuses for personal gain.

Feature Reporting (Network/Top 25 Markets): “Everybody Has a Story,” Steve Hartman of CBS News in New York. Nationwide interviews with everyday people create a true “Reality TV” series.

Feature Reporting (All other markets): “Nicole’s Story,” Wanda Dudley & Russ Hnatusko of WNDU-TV in South Bend, Ind. The story documents a 10-year-old girl’s struggle with a debilitating disease.

Documentaries (Network/Top 25 Markets): “Brothers in Arms: The Untold Story of One Marine Company in Iraq,” John Kennedy, Joan Martelli and Mike Cerre of ABC News Primetime Thursday in New York. Interviews with five Marines from Company Fox 2/5.

Documentaries (All other markets): “Finding Family,” Jeff Hirsh and Jeff Barnhill of WKRC-TV in Cincinnati, Ohio. The story of a Holocaust survivor’s return to Europe and a family who saved him.

Public Service in Television Journalism (Network/Top 25 Markets): “Sudden Impact: Ripple Effects of Drunk Driving,” Tom Brokaw, Soraya Gage, Monica Leas and Marc Rosenwasser of Dateline NBC in New York. Explores the emotional and financial costs of one man’s actions.

Public Service in Television Journalism (All other markets): “Cincinnati Archdiocese Investigation,” Laure Quinlivan, Phil Drechsler, Bob Morford & Kevin Roach of WCPO-TV in Cincinnati, Ohio. Brings tough questions and truth to an often veiled subject.


Public Service in Newsletter Journalism: “CPS Guidance Counselors: The Invisible Presence,” Maureen Kelleher of Catalyst: Chicago. A multi-faceted examination of the lack in guidance at Chicago schools.


Research About Journalism: “Racism, Sexism, and the Media,” Clint C. Wilson II, Felix Gutierrez and Lena M. Chao of Sage Publications in Thousand Oaks, Calif. This textbook discusses the history of coverage of marginalized groups by race in society.


Deadline Reporting (Affiliated): “The Southern California Wildfires,” The Staff of Los Angeles Times.

Deadline Reporting (Independent): “MSBlast Echoes Across the Net,” Rob Lemos and Ina Fried of CNET News.com in San Francisco, Calif. Informative reporting about vulnerable technology and how the virus spread.

Non-Deadline Reporting (Affiliated): “Murder, Race, Justice: The State vs. Darryl Hunt,” Katherine Elkins, Jennifer Falor and Adam Howell of JournalNow.com in Winston-Salem, N.C. Shows the flawed prosecution of Darryl Hunt.

Non-Deadline Reporting (Independent): “Wired Health: At Your Fingertips,” Lisa Habib, Neil Osterweil, Charlotte Grayson and Marjorie Martin of WebMD Health in Atlanta, Ga. Special report helping consumers to understand the beneficial relationship between technology and medical care.

Investigative Reporting (Affiliated): “Beware Mystery Fees for Web Services,” Tom Spring and Peggy Watt of PC World in San Francisco, Calif. Story sheds light on wrongful third-party charges to phone bills.

Investigative Reporting (Independent): “How the Spokesman-Review Subverted Democracy in Spokane, Washington,” Tim Connor, Larry Shook and Judy Laddon of Camas Magazine in Spokane, Wash. An example of the dangers in consolidated ownership across different forms of media.

Public Service in Online Journalism (Affiliated): “Coaches Who Prey,” Christine Willmsen, James Neff, Maureen O’Hagan and Tracy Cutchlow of The Seattle Times-Seattletimes.com. Investigates the ongoing problem of coaches violating female athletes.

Public Service in Online Journalism(Independent): “Silent Partners: How political nonprofits work the system,” Derek Willis & Aron Pilhofer of The Center for Public Integrity in Washington D.C. Brought attention to questionable tax-exempt organization activities.

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