Agricultural Journalim Awards Announced

By: (AP) Alan Bjerga, a reporter for The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, received the North American Agricultural Journalists' top writing award for 2004.

Bjerga, 31, received the Glenn Cunningham Memorial Award as the organization's journalist of the year during a ceremony Monday night at the National Press Club. Bjerga is based in the newspaper's Washington Bureau.

The award recognized his Nov. 28 story, "Is the U.S. government's farm policy making you fat?"

Finalists for the award were Jane Schmucker of The Blade in Toledo, Ohio; John Vogel of Gettysburg, Penn., and American Agriculturalist magazine; and Betsy Freese, Gene Johnston, and John Walter of Successful Farming magazine in Des Moines, Iowa.

The award is named for Glenn Cunningham, a longtime farm editor for The Des Moines Register & Tribune, and the first recipient of the NAAJ's journalist of the year award. He was president of the organization, then known as the Newspaper Farm Editors of America, in 1963.

NAAJ is a professional association of about 125 agricultural editors and writers across the United States and Canada. It was founded in 1952.

Award recipients in the organization's annual writing contest are:

General News:

1, Alan Bjerga, The Wichita Eagle Washington Bureau; Jerry Perkins, The Des Moines Register; 3, Kristy Hebert, Farm and Dairy; honorable mention, Chris Clayton, Omaha World-Herald; Phyllis Jacobs Griekspoor, The Wichita Eagle; Dan Looker, Successful Farming; Barry Shlachter, Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Spot News:

1, Jane Schmucker, The Blade (Toledo, Ohio); 2, Carey Gillam, Reuters; 3, Jake Thompson, Martha Stoddard and Chris Clayton, Omaha World-Herald; honorable mention, Jerry Perkins, The Des Moines Register.


1, Jane Schmucker, The Blade (Toledo, Ohio); 2, Jane Schmucker, The Blade; 3, Chris Clayton, Omaha World-Herald; honorable mention, Carey Gillam, Reuters; Cheryl Rainford, Successful Farming; Susan Schwendener, Reuters; Mark Kawar, Omaha World-Herald; Marc Kovac, The Daily Record (Wooster, Ohio).


1. Betsy Freese, Gene Johnston and John Walter, Successful Farming; 2, Ed White, Western Producer (Winnipeg, Canada); 3, Larisa Brass, The Knoxville News-Sentinel; honorable mention, Jerry Perkins, The Des Moines Register; Todd Neeley, DTN; David Hendee, Omaha World-Herald; Tam Moore, Roy Leidahl, Carl Sampson, Scott Yates, Peggy Steward, Cookson Beecher, Ali Bay, Chip Power, Mitch Lies and Dave Wilkins, The Capital Press (Salem, Ore.)

Columns and Analysis:

1, John Vogel, American Agriculturalist; 2, Allan Dawson, Farmers Independent Weekly; 3, Allan Dawson, Farmers Independent Weekly; honorable mention, Barb Glen, The Western Producer; Dan Looker, Successful Farming.

Special Projects:

1, Barbara Duckworth, The Western Producer; 2, Craig Troianello, Yakima Herald-Republic; 3, Dan Looker and Cheryl Tevis, Successful Farming; honorable mention, Cheryl Tevis and Dan Looker, Successful Farming; Michael McGinnis, Kieran Gartlan, Daniel Davidson, Bryce Anderson, Todd Neeley and Richard Hanson, DTN.

Sandy Miller Hays of Maryland received the 2005 J.S. Russell Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to the organization. The award is named for J.S. Russell, a longtime farm editor of The Des Moines Register & Tribune. Russell was the founding president of the organization.

Also honored during the agricultural journalists' annual meeting were:

DTN, an online news service based in Omaha, Neb., with the Audrey Mackiewicz Special Award which honors the association's first woman president and longtime Executive Secretary-Treasurer. It is given to print media outlets that have expanded their coverage of agriculture.

Larisa Brass, farm writer for The Knoxville News-Sentinel, was given the Bruce Ingersoll Mentorship Award, which honors the memory of Ingersoll who covered agriculture for the Wall Street Journal in Washington. It is a $250 travel scholarship given to enable a member to attend the annual spring meeting in Washington for the first time.

Sally Schuff, Washington-based writer for Feedstuffs magazine and immediate past president of the organization, was given the Bill Zipf President's Award, for her year as head of the agricultural journalists' group. The late Zipf was president in 1972.


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