The AP’s election-night decision not to call Florida and the presidential race for George W. Bush despite tremendous pressure has won a special President’s Award from the Associated Press Managing Editors, and the news agency’s Belgrade bureau was honored for its deadline coverage of the popular revolt that ousted Slobodan Milosevic.
The election figured in another APME prize as well. Miami photographer Alan Diaz captured the news photography award for a widely used image of an election judge peering through a magnifying glass at a ballot during the Florida recount. It was the second consecutive APME award for Diaz, who won last year for his photo of Elian Gonzalez being snatched by armed marshals from the home of his Miami relatives. That image went on to win other awards, including a Pulitzer Prize.
Special correspondent Mort Rosenblum won the award for outstanding enterprise reporting for his multi-part look at how the world’s supply of fresh water hangs in a delicate balance. A serial narrative by Northwest regional reporter David Foster, putting readers alongside firefighters as they battled one of the more than 92,000 wildfires that ravaged parts of the western United States last year, was honored for feature writing.
An investigation documenting wasteful use of taxpayer money by many of Illinois’ 1,400 townships, a project that also involved AP member newspapers, won the Charles Rowe Award for distinguished state bureau reporting for Illinois reporters John Kelly and Christopher Wills. Rowe was longtime co-publisher and editor of The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., president of the APME in 1969, and a member of the AP corporate board of directors from 1976-85.
Nedra Pickler, who covers Washington for AP’s Michigan members, won the John L. Dougherty Award for young staffers. Her entry included beats in the Firestone tire recall story and an exclusive on Ford’s decision to reconsider its longstanding opposition to even studying an increase in federal gas mileage standards. Dougherty was the longtime managing editor of the Rochester (N.Y.) Times-Union and Democrat & Chronicle who died in 1981 while serving as APME treasurer. He was known for his emphasis on good writing and nurturing young journalists.
In the feature photography category, David Guttenfelder won for a photo package on reunions between long-separated families from North and South Korea. Guttenfelder’s work was a Pulitzer finalist in feature photography this year.
APME’s board of directors selected the winners Sunday, honoring work done between July 1, 2000, and June 30.
Days before the uprisings that toppled the Yugoslav leader, AP’s correspondents in Belgrade were tipped that a rally on Oct. 5 would be more than another “street party.” When 10,000 protesters reached the capital, chief correspondent Dusan Stojanovic called AP’s east Europe control bureau in Vienna and alerted the editors to stand by.
Throughout the day, as protesters entered the parliament building and fires broke out, Stojanovic and the staff maintained a steady flow of accurate information, even as police fired stun grenades and tear gas that wafted into the bureau’s first-floor office.
The President’s Award was given to bureau chiefs Sandy Johnson in Washington and Kevin Walsh in Miami, AP projections supervisor David Pace and Washington polling specialist Will Lester. Judges noted that AP’s decision not to call the race for Bush — even as all the television networks did so and Al Gore prepared to concede — spared hundreds of newspapers from erroneous headlines the next morning.
In the enterprise category, AP national writer Deborah Hastings received honorable mention for her look at the severe problems of some children adopted from troubled areas of Russia and eastern Europe.
Honorable mentions also went to Special Correspondent Helen O’Neill for her feature entry about how a woman’s faulty memory wrongly convicted a man for her rape, and to Boston newsman Justin Pope in the Dougherty competition.
In news photography, honorable mentions were given to:
o Jerome Delay, Enric Marti, Lefteris Pitarakis, Elizabeth Dalziel, Peter Dejong, Guttenfelder, Adel Hana, Jacqueline Larma, Laurent Rebours, and Alexander Zemlianichenko for their body of work in covering Mideast unrest.
o Vadim Ghirda, for a photo of Albanian refugees in a bus window as they fled Macedonia.
Honorable mentions in feature photography went to:
o Tony Gutierrez, for a photo of lightning bolts over Fort Worth’s Bass Performance Hall.
o Beth Keiser, for a shot of a cleaning man admiring a Monet painting at Christie’s auction house.
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