‘Hartford Courant’ Reporters Win Broun Prize

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By: E&P Staff

Two Harford (Conn.) Courant reporters, Lisa Chedekel and Matthew Kauffman, won the Heywood Broun Award for their series of stories investigating the U.S. government’s ongoing deployment to Iraq of soldiers who suffer pre-existing mental illness and other psychological conditions.

The award is named after Heywood Broun, the founder and first president of the American Newspaper Guild and a prominent columnist. The $5,000 prize is given annually by the Newspaper Guild-CWA and will be presented this year on May 3 at the union’s Freedom Award Fund dinner in Washington, D.C.

In Chedekel’s and Kauffman’s series, “Mentally Unfit, Forced to Fight” the two reporters revealed that senior military officials have sent troops into combat, despite clear evidence of bipolar disorder, depression, suicidal episodes and Post Traumatic Stress Trauma. The series also uncovered that fewer than 1 in 300 recruits see a mental health specialists before being deployed even though it’s a federal requirement.

“In publicizing the little-known plight of mentally ill soldiers, the paper helped prompt new legislation addressing the flaws in the military’s mental health system,” the judges said about the series.

Debbie Cenziper, a report with the Miami Herald, wins the Broun award for substantial distinction for her reporting in the series “House of Lies” – a series that uncovered corruption at one of the nation’s largest housing authorities. She will receive $1,000.

In addition, Josh Wolf, a San Francisco freelance journalist who has been held in federal prison since August 2006 for refusing to turn over video he shot of a demonstration in San Francisco, will be honored with the Herbert Block Freedom Award. He will win $5,000.

For college and high school students, the David S. Barr award will be presented to Kendyl R. Salcito of the University of British Columbia for her article “War Brewing Over Mineral Rights in Rural B.C.” Elizabeth Curry wins the award in the high school division for her story “Fulton County Blues.” She attends Henry W. Grady High School in Atlanta. Salcito will receive a scholarship award of $1,500; Curry wins a scholarship prize of $500.

This year’s Broun judges were Deborah Howell, ombudswoman for the Washington Post; Tom Kunkel, dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland; Chris Lehmann, senior editor at CQ Weekly; and Jack Nelson, retired Washington bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times. Dick Peery, the longtime president of the Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild who retired last year after 35 years with The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, chaired the judging panel.

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