Thursday, March 13, 2008

National Journalism winners

Ernie Pyle Award winner Julia O'Malley, left,
and her editor Sheila Toomey in Anchorage.

McClatchy journalists scored impressive wins in the annual National Journalism Awards competition administrated by the Scripps Howard Foundation: there are 12 newspaper awards there, and McClatchy journalists won three of them. No other company had multiple winners. (These winners, by the way, receive prizes of $10,000 each.)

Jason Whitlock, an often controversial but always engaging sports columnist at the Kansas City Star won the Scripps commentary prize, which often goes to a metro columnist or op-ed writer and rarely to a sports staffer. A Star writer since 1994, Jason often captures national attention, as he did in covering the controversy surrounding radio host Don Imus’ comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team. While most commentators focused on Imus for his thoughtless racism, Jason aimed elsewhere, with stinging criticism of the misogynist hip-hop music culture he said created the climate in which young female athletes could be characterized as “nappy-headed hos.”

Washington Bureau reporters won our second National Journalism Award, this one for their work on the story of how U.S. Attorney appointments were politicized by the Justice Department under President Bush and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Margaret Talev, Marisa Taylor and Greg Gordon, who were broadly recognized for their work in the blogosphere and elsewhere at the time, were the winners.

And the third of the Scripps prizes, for human interest reporting, is named in honor of war correspondent Ernie Pyle and was awarded to Julia O’Malley, a young writer on the Anchorage Daily News. In keeping with the spirit of Ernie Pyle’s WW2 dispatches about ordinary soldiers, Julia’s winning portfolio included a collection of well-told stories about ordinary Alaskans: a young Army widow, a Lao boy adopted by Anchorage Buddhist monks, the father of a murder victim, and others.

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