McClatchy Announces 10 President’s Award for Journalism Excellence and Honors two for Digital Innovation

By: Press Release | McClatchy

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Jan. 30, 2013 – The McClatchy Company (NYSE: MNI) today announced the winners of 10 President’s Awards for journalism excellence in 2012 for exceptional work in investigative reporting, explanatory journalism, photography and writing. The company also recognized two newspapers with special awards for online innovation.

The Kansas City Star was recognized for its 12-month probe of the Midwest’s beef industry that documented a growing health threat from modern meat processing. The Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer won for a joint project that found nonprofit hospitals in North Carolina making record profits, paying multimillion-dollar executive salaries and amassing huge reserves.

Staff members in Miami, Biloxi, Sacramento and Raleigh won for investigative work. El Nuevo Herald and The Miami Herald were recognized for coverage of a secret election campaign by a sitting congressman who then lost reelection. The Sun Herald in Biloxi won for stories about questionable spending by Mississippi’s environmental agency. The Sacramento Bee was honored for revelations about a state agency hiding funds in the midst of massive cutbacks, and The News & Observer for coverage of academic fraud at the University of North Carolina that led to the university chancellor’s resignation.

The Lexington Herald-Leader won for the exquisite writing and photography in its year-long look at Central Kentucky’s famed Thoroughbred horse farms by reporter Janet Patton and photographer Charles Bertram. David Lauderdale, a columnist for The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette, was recognized for his essays that capture the routines and surprises of life in South Carolina’s Lowcountry.

The Olympian and The News Tribune were recognized for exhaustive and even-handed coverage of the same-sex marriage campaign in Washington state. The McClatchy Washington bureau won for its coverage that took readers into the chaos, violence and confusion of the war in Syria.

The company honored two newspapers with special awards for digital innovation. The Fresno Bee was recognized for John Walker’s digital photography exhibit that compares historical photos to those scenes today in both online and print presentations. The State in Columbia was honored for the launch of its South Carolina Military Page that collects and aggregates all news on the topic along with links, opinion pieces and archives.

“We are incredibly proud and inspired by all this great work being produced by McClatchy journalists around the country and the world,” said Pat Talamantes, McClatchy’s president and CEO. “The McClatchy President’s Awards remind us yet again that McClatchy journalism is alive and well and just as vital and compelling in today’s digital age as it has ever been.”

The annual President’s Awards are the highest employee honors given by The McClatchy Company. Judging the competition this year were Susan Goldberg, executive editor at Bloomberg News; Marty Kaiser, editor and senior vice president at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and Anders Gyllenhaal, McClatchy’s vice president for news and Washington editor.

Here are the judges’ comments and internet links, where available, to the winning entries:

(Biloxi) Sun Herald
Troubled Waters: State Agency Under State, Federal Microscopes
Karen Nelson, Anita Lee, Paul Hampton, Michael Newsom and John Fitzhugh

The Sun Herald burrowed into the state’s Department of Marine Resources after getting a tip about corruption within the agency, which has increasingly broad sway over the coast in the wake of the recent hurricanes. Reporters documented a growing list of questionable deals, including a foundation devoted to entertainment, the purchase of real estate and misuse of grant money. The judges said the coverage, which helped lead to the firing of the department’s director, showed great tenacity and resourcefulness. “The Sun Herald just kept at this week after week with a series of stories that has had sweeping impact,” the judges said.

The Charlotte Observer, The (Raleigh) News & Observer
Nonprofit Hospitals: Prognosis Profits
Ames Alexander, Karen Garloch, Joseph Neff, David Raynor, Steve Riley and Jim Walser

The superior work by The Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer stands out in a number of ways: The reporting uncovered an important and dramatic trend among nonprofit hospitals that is having great impact on health care; the writing and presentation on this complex topic was clear, detailed and emphatic; and the way the two papers worked together to develop a series that was tailored to each of their readership was an accomplishment. The judges said the series told a story that would otherwise probably never be known and put a topic of lasting importance in front of the community. “This is simply great work,” the judges wrote. “One of the best examples of collaboration we’ve seen.”

The Kansas City Star
Beef’s Raw Edges
Mike McGraw and Alan Bavley

The Star’s 12-month review of the region’s beef industry delivered startling revelations with an exquisitely written project that was also a triumph in print and online presentation. The stories confronted growing and dangerous trends in meat production, raised questions about the spread of hormones into the environment and probed the way the industry is lobbying the government. The series has a book-like depth and quality, along with a presentation that urges the reader along with terrific photography, graphics and presentation. “This is one of the most exhaustive and important pieces of journalism any of us has seen this year,” the judges said.

Lexington Herald-Leader
Fields of Dreams: A Year on Central Kentucky’s Famed Thoroughbred Horse Farms
Janet Patton, Charles Bertram and Scott Shive

The Herald-Leader took readers on a year-long journey on the front lines of the Thoroughbred horse industry with its Fields of Dreams series, featuring eloquent writing and photography that captured life on the farm. Reporter Janet Patton uses the device of the seasons to create a portrait that is both immensely detailed and powerful – “a kind of journalistic poetry,” the judges said. Charles Bertram’s photography is a perfect match for the narratives. “The photos are breathtaking,” said the judges. The stories also illustrate the value of bringing a focus to a profession that defines the region. “Above all, you feel such a sense of place as you read these wonderful packages,” the judges said.

The (Hilton Head) Island Packet, The Beaufort Gazette
A Newspaper Columnist: For the Love of Story
David Lauderdale

The local column is a newspaper franchise, and nobody illustrates how to pull that off better than David Lauderdale, who writes about the people of Hilton Head Island and Beaufort with a touch and a voice that is unparalleled. His topics range from the biggest issues of the day to the smallest topics in life, from bees to dogs to modern technology. With a knowledge of the region that comes only from decades on the job and with glowing reviews from readers as qualified as best-selling author Pat Conroy, David Lauderdale’s writing is a touchstone for the papers’ readers. “He can make you laugh and cry, often in the same column,” the judges said.

El Nuevo Herald, The Miami Herald
Investigation of Congressman David Rivera
Marc Caputo, Manny Garcia and Sergio Bustos

El Nuevo Herald and The Miami Herald’s exemplary work in revealing Congressman David Rivera’s secret election exploits began with a simple question: How did a candidate with no money pay for an expensive election campaign? Little by little, the story came out as the reporters (and the editor) from the papers worked together to ask further questions. Over the course of the general election campaign, the full sordid picture of the story trickled out and almost certainly shifted the outcome of this election. “It’s a story that starts with good old curiosity,” the judges said, “and ends with a congressman losing his post.”

The (Raleigh) News & Observer
UNC: A Case of Academic Fraud
Dan Kane, J. Andrew Curliss, Andrew Carter and Jane Stancill

The N&O’s relentless reporting singlehandedly uncovered the most brazen scandal in the history of North Carolina’s flagship university. Over the course of 14 years, a university department built a web of fraudulent classes aimed at keeping athletes moving through the system without having to study – revelations that eventually cost the UNC chancellor his job. “The work shows how dogged reporting can overcome huge obstacles in getting at the truth,” the judges said. “The stories told a riveting story of a shameful secret within college athletics.”

The Olympian, The (Tacoma) News Tribune
A State Decides the Same-Sex Marriage Question

The joint capital bureau of The Olympian and The News Tribune covered one of the nation’s most pivotal and emotional political stories with a depth and breadth equal to this campaign. Every step of the way, the coverage was thoughtful, smart and even-handed on a topic that divided the nation this past year. “The work was particularly impressive in how the staff brought its sprawling story home to Washington’s capital city,” the judges said. “This is a great example of making the most of a running story that readers on the homefront and around the nation were following.”

The Sacramento Bee
State Parks Funding
Matt Weiser, Jon Ortiz and Kevin Yamamura

There is no bigger story in California’s capital than the state budget travails, and the Bee’s revelations about hidden millions and secret buyouts transfixed the state for weeks last year. Pulling the string on this story, the Bee gradually discovered a parallel universe in the state funding debate. The stories also showed how fallible budgeting can be at a time when thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in services are on the line. “This is the kind of work that only a dedicated newspaper with a staff that knows its beats can deliver,” the judges said. “This is high-caliber work that truly serves the public’s interest.”

McClatchy Washington Bureau
Inside Syria
David Enders, Austin Tice, Roy Gutman, Hannah Allam and Jonathan S. Landay

The bureau’s coverage of Syria went up against an assortment of obstacles, from the hazards of reporting on a civil war without clear boundaries to the difficulty of confirming the most basic information. That high degree of difficulty makes this work all the more impressive on a story of vital global interest. The stories delivered by the combination of staff and freelancers chronicled the Syrian story from the front lines, delivering a rich, full portrait of what’s happening inside the country. “An outstanding example of reporting what’s really going on in a place where the truth is so obscure,” the judges said.
Digital Innovation Awards

The Fresno Bee
Historical Perspectives: A Photo Essay
John Walker

The Bee’s photo feature is a delightful combination of research and photography that has built a full archive of stories that explore the present and past in a whole new way. “Historical Perspectives” reflects the work of one dedicated photographer with a good idea. “Everything about this project is done exceptionally well,” the judges said. “It shows a wonderful sense of place, a really nice user experience, a great design that captures the old and the new. It really hooks the reader in.”

The (Columbia) State
South Carolina Military Page
Jeff Wilkinson, Kristy Rupon and Kelly Davis

Set in one of the nation’s most important military locales, surrounded by bases, retired military personnel and contractors, The State assembled a web page devoted to all things military this past year. The project has been a big hit with users, for good reason. The military page assembles the latest news on all military topics, aggregates stories from across the country, links to sources of information ranging from bases to veterans organizations, and posts commentary on military topics. “It’s a one stop shop for anyone who wants information on the military,” the judges said. “It’s a great example of the kind of utilitarian approach we should be doing all across newspaper websites.”

About McClatchy

The McClatchy Company is a leading news and information provider, offering a wide array of print and digital products in each of the markets it serves. As the third largest newspaper company in the country, McClatchy’s operations include 30 daily newspapers, community newspapers, websites, mobile news and advertising, niche publications, direct marketing and direct mail services. The company’s largest newspapers include The Miami Herald, The Sacramento Bee, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Kansas City Star, The Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. McClatchy is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol MNI.

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