APME Announces Awards — Gulf Coast Papers Get Special Nod for Katrina Coverage

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The Times-Picayune of New Orleans and The Sun Herald of south Mississippi will receive President’s Awards for Public Service from the Associated Press Managing Editors association for continuing to publish and provide essential information to their communities as they dealt with the ravages of Hurricane Katrina.

It is the first time a president’s award has been made in APME’s newspaper contests. Previously, a handful have been awarded to AP staff.

APME President Suki Dardarian, deputy managing editor of The Seattle Times, said she decided to award the special recognition because of the newspapers’ extraordinary commitment.

“In the most dire of times, these two newsrooms moved in to serve their communities with vision, urgency and passion,” she said. “Since the storm, they have served as watchdog and town hall — and heart and soul — of their readers. Their work is a powerful and inspiring reminder of the value of true community service journalism.”

An association of editors at 1,500 AP member newspapers in the U.S. and the Canadian Press in Canada, APME recognizes journalism excellence with annual awards in four categories. This year’s winners were selected during a meeting of the association’s board of directors that concluded Monday in New York. The awards will be presented during the APME conference Oct. 25-28 in New Orleans. Directors did not participate in discussions or votes on their own newspapers’ entries.

APME awards will be presented in these categories (winners in order of circulation category — over 150,000, 40,000-150,000, and under 40,000):


PUBLIC SERVICE:

— The Los Angeles Times for an investigation exposing horrific abuses by professional conservators of the elderly they are hired to protect.

— The Blade of Toledo, Ohio, for stories showing gross mismanagement of a $50 million investment by the state into rare coins.

— The Merced (Calif.) Sun-Star for dogged pursuit of a district attorney accused of committing numerous abuses.


FIRST AMENDMENT:

— The South Florida Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale for expansive, ongoing efforts to uncover how the Federal Emergency Management Agency gives millions of dollars in disaster relief to ineligible recipients.

— The State of Columbia, S.C., for its efforts to inform taxpayers about a powerful legislator’s public funding of a pet project with virtually no oversight.

— The Galveston County (Texas) Daily News for pushing a state land office to comply with requests for information casting doubts about the success of a highly touted state energy program.

A First Amendment Sweepstakes Award will be announced at the APME conference.


INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE:

— The Star Tribune of Minneapolis for a deeply personal look at how an entire community in Mexico relies on contributions from its residents working in Minnesota.

— The News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash., for stories demonstrating the economic ties between the state of Washington and China and suggesting future development.

— The Greeley (Colo.) Tribune for “North to Colorado,” a multi-layered look at how immigrants from Mexico are changing the face of Colorado.


APMEONLINE CONVERGENCE:

— The Dallas Morning News and dallasnews.com for a print and online package on the South by Southwest film and music event.

— The Journal News of White Plains, N.Y., and www.lohud.com for coverage of the U.S. Open golf tournament.

— Culpeper (Va.) Star Exponent and starexponent.com for a package on Allie Thompson, a black man killed by a lynch mob in 1918.

***

In addition to the awards, APME judges give First Amendment citations to these newspapers for freedom of information efforts:


Over 150,000:

— The Seattle Times and The Miami Herald for exposing legal system secrecy in which local judges routinely and arbitrarily sealed lawsuits from public scrutiny.


40,000-150,000:

— The Sun of Lowell, Mass., for broad efforts to ensure public access to government and quasi–government information.

— The Post–Standard of Syracuse, N.Y., which prompted new law through efforts to get court records.


Under 40,000

— The Eagle of Bryan-College Station, Texas, which requested and obtained e-mail files that brought into question a little-known attorney’s relationship with a judge and his appointment of her to a juvenile justice program.

***

The judges listed finalists or honorable mentions in other categories:


PUBLIC SERVICE:


Over 150,000:

— The Wall Street Journal for an investigation reporting that stock options often are rigged in favor of company executives.

— The Tennessean, Nashville, Tenn., for overcoming secrecy and hidden documents to report on the criminal backgrounds of many state troopers.

— USA Today for a package of stories examining fire risks facing the elderly.

— The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post for an investigation into hazards faced by migrant farm workers in fields treated with chemicals.

— The Dallas Morning News for exposing corruption in the Dallas school district’s technology department.


40,000-150,000:

— The News Journal, Wilmington, Del., for a report on the diseases, dangers and lack of medical care of Delaware’s prisons and the failure of the state to do anything about it.

— The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, Ind., for an investigation into questionable activities at a foundation formed to aid local children.

— The Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette for a series revealing the rising death toll from use of the drug methadone and government’s failure to warn the public.


Under 40,000:

— Post Register, Idaho Falls, Idaho, for finding that civil and criminal court files dealing with pedophile Boy Scout leaders were disappearing from courthouse computers.

— Greeley (Colo.) Tribune for a series of stories aimed at improving the local school district’s performance scores.


INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE:

Over 150,000:

— The Denver Post, which visited several east African nations to observe and write about nontraditional partnerships to save lives amid the poverty.

— The Des Moines (Iowa) Register, which wrote about a Des Moines doctor’s obsession with improving conditions in a small part of the impoverished African country of Mali and included a look at U.S. trade, foreign aid and humanitarian policies.


40,000-150,000:

— Florida Today of Melbourne, Fla., for a look at many international aspects of the busy cruise ship hub of Port Canaveral.


Under 40,000:

— The Fort Wayne (Ind.) News-Sentinel for a look at local immigration from the brutally repressive regime of Myanmar.


APMEONLINE CONVERGENCE:

Over 150,000:

— San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News and mercurynews.com for its package “Tainted Trials, Stolen Justice.”

— Houston Chronicle for coverage of Ken Lay’s and Jeff Skilling’s Enron trials.


40,000-150,000:

— The News Journal, Wilmington, Del., and Delawareonline.com for “Losing Stephen: The Anguish of a Soldier’s Mother.”


Under 40,000:

— The Day, New London, Conn., for “Shape Up for Summer Challenge.”

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