‘NY Times,’ ‘LA Times,’ Ex-Santa Barbara Staffers Take Payne Awards for Ethics

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By: E&P Staff

The 2007 Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism will be shared between the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times “for their decision-making processes surrounding the June 2006 publication of a story on a US government project to access the SWIFT financial records database,” according to a release.

The judges said they were honoring the papers’ decision to honor the public’s right to know — even while they were facing pressure from the government not to publish the reports about the government’s tracking of terrorists’ funds. The judges said the awards was for the “very thoughtful way in which the editors laid out their reasoning”about publishing the stories.

Also receiving a shared Payne award are the nine journalists who resigned from the Santa Barbara News Press to protest publisher Wendy McCaw’s interference with news coverage. The former staffers sharing the award are Jerry Roberts, former executive editor; George Foulsham, former managing editor; Don Murphy, former deputy managing editor; Gerry Spratt, former sports editor; Michael Todd, former business editor; Jane Hulse, former city editor; Colin Powers, former presentation editor; Scott Hadly, former reporter; and former columnist Barney Brantingham.

The Payne awards also issued two special citiations to the (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer for an in-depth investigation and retrospective “regarding a white supremacy campaign, race riot and coup?and their publication of an independent author?s explanation of how both papers were deeply involved — more than 100 years after it occurred.”

Video blogger Josh Wolf, who was jailed for eight months for refusing to hand over video footage to a grand jury, will also receive a special individual citation.

“The very definition of integrity is to make ethical decisions and to be willing to both stand by those decisions and explain them to others,” Tim Gleason, Dean of the UO School of Journalism and Communication and a member of the judging panel, said in a written statement. “This year?s winners are exemplars of integrity, both as editors and as individuals. The pressure on the winners, in all cases, was great — in some cases involving their liberty and security.”

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