‘WSJ’ Bureau Chief Wins Payne Award for Iran Reporting

By: E&P Staff

The 2010 Payne Awards for Ethics in Journalism have been bestowed upon freelance writer Scott Carney and Wall Street Journal bureau chief Farnaz Fassihi.

Published in Mother Jones in March of 2009, Carney?s piece ?Meet the Parents? told the story of a boy kidnapped from his parents in India and sold through corrupt adoption agencies to an American family. Carney got personally involved in the story, making contact with the family in the U.S.

The Payne judges wrote that Carney ?consciously recognized that he was part of the story — in fact, his participation was part of the story. The story included a number of ethical crossroads — and it is clear that these decisions were carefully considered.?

The Wall Street Journal?s deputy bureau chief in the Middle East and Africa, Fassihi was recognized for her reporting in Iran, even at the risk of personal harm. The judges noted her ?thorough, fair, honest and courageous reporting in producing a body of work that puts a human face on the crisis in Iran.?

The Payne Awards selected no winners this year in either the news organization or collegiate media categories. The awards were established in 1999 by Seattle?s Ancil Payne, former CEO of KING Broadcasting, at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication to honor ?the journalist of integrity and character who reports with insight and clarity in the face of political or economic pressures and to reward performance that inspires public trust in the media.? Payne died in 2004.

Judges for this year?s awards included Peter Bhatia, executive editor of The Oregonian;, former Seattle Post-Intelligencer Editorial Page Editor Joann Byrd; Mark Zusman, editor of Willamette Week; and Tim Gleason, Edwin L. Artzt Dean and Professor at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.

?One of the core elements of great journalism is the reporter?s willingness to struggle with complex stories to make sense of them for their readers. Sometimes that includes putting oneself at risk — physically or emotionally. In either case, you do this because you know that is the right thing to do,? Gleason said in a statement. ?That is the definition of an ethical journalist.?

The awards will be presented at a luncheon during the school?s annual Hulteng Conversations in Ethics Conference on May 14 in Portland.

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