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New Pulliam Editorial Fellow to research mystery of Kennewick Man

For Immeidate Release

Todd Gillman, Sigma Delta Chi Foundation President, (202) 661-8421 or Joyce Dobson, Director of Development, (317) 927-8000, ext. 213 or
INDIANAPOLIS – Kate Riley, an editorial writer for The Seattle Times, is the 2005 recipient of the Eugene C. Pulliam Fellowship for Editorial Writing presented annually by the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Riley becomes the 26th individual to receive the award. She will be recognized September 17 during the 2005 National Conference of Editorial Writers (NCEW) Convention in Portland, Oregon. As the Pulliam Fellow, Riley will receive $75,000 from the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation to conduct her research.

Riley’s project will focus on the controversy surrounding the discovery of 9,300 year old human bones that have come to be called Kennewick Man. The bones have become the center of conflict among scientists, public officials and Native American tribal leaders. Having gone to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the decision to study the bones has foundered in litigation. The secret of who exactly Kennewick Man was remains unanswered. The Fellowship will enable Riley to interview scientists and elders of the tribes who claim the remains. She will travel to other parts of the country where similar disputes have raged as well as parts of Asia where anthropological evidence may be found. Her award will also enable her to study anthropology.

The Foundation’s selection committee chose Riley from among the applicants based upon her qualifications, project proposal, writing and research abilities, employer support and professional involvement.

“This is a fascinating project, crossing many disciplines, including science, anthropology and history,” said Paul McMasters, who chaired the fellowship selection panel. Noting that there were a number of “truly exceptional” proposals in this year’s applications for the fellowship, McMasters said that Riley’s proposal “was distinguished by terrific writing, a detailed research plan and real potential for journalistic excellence and cultural relevance.”

McMasters, First Amendment Ombudsman at the First Amendment Center, is a past president of the SDX Foundation and SPJ. Other judges were Kay Semion, associate editor of the editorial pages at the Daytona Beach News-Journal and current president of NCEW; and Hyde Post, editorial director of, the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Web site and former National Freedom of Information Coalition president.

Kate Riley is a graduate of the University of Washington who began her career as the farm and business writer at the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, a 16,000-circulation newspaper in Southeastern Washington. Three years later, she became the business writer at the Tri-City Herald. At the Herald, Riley advanced to the position of editorial page editor. In 2001, she joined The Seattle Times. Riley has won SPJ awards in editorial writing and commentary. “Ms. Riley’s application is the synthesis of the role of the regional newspaper – it is a local story with global implications,” said James F. Vesely, Seattle Times editorial page editor.

The Eugene C. Pulliam Fellowship was first offered in 1977. It is funded by a grant from Mrs. Eugene C. Pulliam, honoring the memory of her husband, one of the original members of the Society and former publisher of The Indianapolis Star, The Indianapolis News, The Arizona Republic and The Phoenix Gazette.

Founded in 1961, the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation is dedicated to ensuring that those who carry on the tradition of a free press are prepared for the challenge. Its goal is to support the educational programs of the Society of Professional Journalists and to serve the professional needs of journalists and students pursuing careers in journalism.

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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