2005 ASNE Awards Announced

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By: E&P Staff

The American Society of Newspaper Editors has announced this year’s winners of its annual awards.

The two top awards — the Jesse Laventhol Prize for Deadline News Reporting by a Team and the Jesse Laventhol Prize for Deadline News Reporting by an Individual, each of which carries a $10,000 award — went to The Washington Post and The New York Times. Five Post reporters won the team award for their tsunami coverage in South Asia, and the Times’ Dexter Filkins won the individual award for his coverage of urban warfare in Falluja. Winners of the other six awards receive $2,500 each.

Following is ASNE’s press release:

AMERICAN SOCIETY OF NEWSPAPER EDITORS RECOGNIZES EXCELLENCE IN WRITING, PHOTOGRAPHY

RESTON, Va. — The American Society of Newspaper Editors has selected the winners of its annual awards for distinguished writing and photography.

Winners of the 2005 ASNE Awards are:

The Washington Post: Michael Dobbs, Rama Lakshmi, John Lancaster, Peter Goodman, Alan Sipress — Jesse Laventhol Prize for Deadline News Reporting by a Team

Dexter Filkins, The New York Times — Jesse Laventhol Prize for Deadline News Reporting by an Individual

Babita Persaud, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times — The Freedom Forum/ASNE Award for Outstanding Writing on Diversity

M.J. Wilde, The Albuquerque (N.M.) Tribune — commentary/column writing

Helen O’Neill, Associated Press — nondeadline writing

David Barham, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Little Rock — editorial writing

Alana Baranick, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland — obituary writing

Carol Guzy, The Washington Post — community service photojournalism

The Jesse Laventhol prizes each carry a $10,000 cash award; all of the others will receive $2,500 prizes. The awards will be presented on Thursday, April 14, during ASNE’s convention in Washington. The winning entries and interviews with the winners and finalists will be published in “Best Newspaper Writing 2005,” by The Poynter Institute, St. Petersburg, Fla.

A look at the winners:

The Washington Post team won the Jesse Laventhol Prize for Deadline News Reporting by a Team for their coverage of the tsunami disaster in South Asia. The judges praised the team for delivering “a stunning amount of information (that) blended a sweeping narrative with clarity and economy of expression. An unusual command of detail, given the early stage of the story. It paints a global picture of what happened, setting readers up for the worsening news the week brought.”

Dexter Filkins, The New York Times, won the Jesse Laventhol Prize for Deadline News Reporting by an Individual for his coverage of urban warfare in Falluja, Iraq. The judges said Filkins gave readers “a very skillful window into the world of urban warfare. Stories had vivid, colorful details and are noteworthy for the economy of the writing. Reading Filkins evokes unforgettable scenes that keep the reader engaged.”

Babita Persaud, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, won the The Freedom Forum/ASNE Award for Outstanding Writing on Diversity for stories about arranged marriages in modern America. The main characters include a mid-20s daughter ready for matrimony and parents hoping she will yield to rituals cast thousands of years ago in their native India. “The intimate view of two cultures within one family is a wonderful blend of comprehensive reporting and seamless storytelling,” the judges said. “Writer Babita Persaud crafts a story packed with knowing and caring detail. She deftly follows the increasingly difficult struggle to preserve ancient tradition. Readers get a dramatically told story of culture and change, family and love.”

M.J. Wilde, The Albuquerque (N.M.) Tribune won the commentary/column writing award for columns on baseball, bathing suits and bosom buddies. “M.J. Wilde tackles some weighty issues and brings a sense of humor. And she tackles some less than weighty issues and brings a sense of humor. She’s refreshing. Her outlook keeps life in perspective,” the judges said.

David Barham, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Little Rock, won for editorials about highway deaths, the South and Osama bin Laden. The judges praised Barham’s bold leads, such as, “Dear European pig-doll radical Zionist crusader goat-faced sons of jackals.” “David Barham gets out of the office – a lot – to make his work more real,” the judges said. “Most importantly, he blends imagination, persuasion, knowledge and superb use of language into powerful editorials.” Helen O’Neill, Associated Press, won for nondeadline writing about the kidnapping on an 88-year-old grandmother in a small town in Wisconsin. “O’Neill’s writing is spare, exciting, intimate,” the judges said. “The pace is relentless, the cliffhangers nail-biting. There simply wasn’t a false note in the series; it was authentic to the core.”

Alana Baranick, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, won this year’s special category, obituary writing, for “A Life Story,” a series of longer obits that feature a church housekeeper, a rabbit farmer, and a NASA scientist who also taught African dance. “With vivid detail and direct language, Baranick creates richly textured portraits of everyday folks who become extraordinary through her words,” the judges said. “From the lady who raised bunnies to the man who sold orthopedic shoes, Baranick’s characters are warm and funny, far from perfect, and altogether human. Avoiding clich?s and oversimplification, Baranick engages the reader by finding a narrative thread that captures the essence of her subjects.”

Carol Guzy, The Washington Post, won the community service photojournalism award for photos of a local high school student facing difficult choices. “Carol Guzy earned the trust that gained her a hall pass into the life of John Thomas?” the judges said. “Guzy’s access, and the trust of her subject, helped paint a phenomenal and realistic story. With the highest degree of technical capability, Guzy and her skillful eye embraced her subject with dignity and concern.”

The ASNE judges also recognized the work of other newspaper journalists as finalists:

Deadline News Reporting by a Team

San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News: David Early, Scott Herhold, Patrick May, Howard Mintz, Julie Patel, Jessie Seyfer, Julia Prodis Sulek, Kim Vo

The Wall Street Journal: Dennis K. Berman, Ellen Byron, Justin Lahart, Amy Merrick, Mitchell Pacelle, Gregory Zuckerman

Deadline News Reporting by an Individual

Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times David Perlman, San Francisco Chronicle

The Freedom Forum/ASNE Award for Outstanding Writing on Diversity

Josh Peter, The Times-Picayune, New Orleans Adam Fifield, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Commentary/column writing

Brian McGrory, The Boston Globe Rich Brooks, Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune Howard Troxler, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times

Nondeadline writing

Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune Meredith May, San Francisco Chronicle

Editorial writing

Mark Mahoney, The Post-Star, Glens Falls, N.Y.

Obituary writing

Margalit Fox, The New York Times Adam Bernstein, The Washington Post

Community service photojournalism

Robert Gauthier, Los Angeles Times Manny Crisostomo, The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee

This year’s contest attracted more than 550 entries from news organizations throughout the United States and Canada.

The Jesse Laventhol Prizes are named in honor of a longtime Philadelphia newspaperman. They are endowed by his son, David A. Laventhol, a former editor and executive for Times Mirror. Laventhol has been a member of ASNE for many years and serves as a member of the ASNE Awards Board. He said he wanted to encourage excellence in a key aspect of newspaper reporting — “to recognize the best deadline work and to encourage more of it.”

The Freedom Forum, which has partnered with ASNE on many diversity efforts, funds the award for outstanding writing on diversity.

The ASNE Foundation — which is supported by gifts from ASNE members, newspaper companies and foundations — funds the other awards. The Poynter Institute administers the competition. Aly Col?n of The Poynter Institute will be the editor of “Best Newspaper Writing 2005.”

The awards were given for work completed in 2004. All daily newspapers and wire services in the United States are eligible to enter. Also eligible are other newspapers in the Americas that are headed by an active member of ASNE. All entries must be submitted in English.

Diane McFarlin, publisher, Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune, chaired the Awards Board this year. Also judging were: Jim Amoss, The Times- Picayune, New Orleans; Caesar Andrews, Gannett News Service, McLean, Va.; Amanda Bennett, The Philadelphia Inquirer; Susan Bischoff, Houston Chronicle; Neil Brown, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times; Jeff Bruce, Dayton (Ohio) Daily News; Jerry Ceppos, Knight Ridder, San Jose, Calif.; Mike Connelly, Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune; Jim Crutchfield, Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal; Charlotte Hall, Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel; Karla Garrett Harshaw, Springfield (Ohio) News-Sun and Cox Community Newspapers; Deborah Howell, Newhouse News Service, Washington; Ed Jones, The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va.; Marty Kaiser, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Tim McGuire, retired, Star Tribune, Minneapolis; Greg Moore, The Denver Post; Skip Perez, The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla.; and Jim Willse, The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J.

Carolyn Lee, New York, chaired the photojournalism award judging. Four photo experts also joined in the judging: Dan Habib, Concord (N.H.) Monitor; Kenny Irby, The Poynter Institute; Robert Miller, The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.; and Sue Morrow, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.

Judges abstain from discussion when there is either a personal or professional conflict of interest.

With about 750 members, ASNE is the principal organization of American newspaper editors. It is active in a number of areas, including open government, freedom of the press, journalism credibility and ethics, newsroom management, diversity and readership.

Photos of the winners will be available at http://www.asne.org/index.cfm?id=5482 and more judges’ quotes about the winners and the finalists are available on ASNE’s Web site at http://www.asne.org/index.cfm?id=5484.

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