The best example was the Kennebec Journal of Augusta, Me., which won for editorial writing, a category that failed to produce a Pulitzer Prize winner this year. Located in one of the nation's smallest state capitals (pop. 18,500), the Journal has a circulation of only 15,000. Its opinion editor, Naomi Schalit, right, earned the award for her week-long, 13-story series "For I was hungry." It was a unique way of exploring a critical issue, hunger in Maine, and also taking a stand about it. John Christie, the newspaper's publisher, described the series this way:
Most series are written by news reporters or a team of reporters. But this series was researched and written solely by the opinion page editor and not only reports the facts of hunger in Maine, but also editorializes about what should be done about this sad and urgent problem.
Opinion page investigative series are rare at newspapers of any size, but nearly unheard of at small daily newspapers like ours. Usually, only metropolitan newspapers with opinion page staffs of half a dozen or more can free up a writer long enough to delve deeply into a single topic. But this newspaper made a commitment to the community three years ago when I published our vision statement. We want, I wrote at the time, to become “distinguished papers of our size; we go beyond standard news coverage with journalism that informs, probes and provokes.”
Mine and Safety Health News, based in Pittsford, N.Y., won for the second straight year for Public Service in Newsletter Journalism. This year's winning entry was on the Crandall Canyon Mine disaster in Utah; last year, it won for coverage of the Sago Mine disaster in West Virginia.
In categories for newspapers with circulation of less than 100,000, the Wisconsin State Journal of Madison (circ. 87,547) won for public service with its week-long series "Elder abuse: A silent shame." Included in that series was an article about how the safety net for the elderly is often not as strong in rural areas. The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C., (circ. 95,709) won two awards in the small-paper class, for deadline and non-deadline reporting. The Columbian (circ. 46,203) of Vancouver, Wash., next to Portland, Ore., won for investigative reporting.
BusinessWeek won the magazine investigative-reporting award for its "Poverty Series," which chronicled "U.S. companies' audacious drive to extract more profits from the nation's working poor," including those in rural areas. Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor won for public service in radio journalism with "Grading Michigan Schools," a comprehensive look at education in the state. Two small TV stations, KOMU-TV in Columbia, Mo., and WLOX-TV in Biloxi, Miss., won awards for stations outside the top 25 markets. KOMU-TV won for its documentary, "Mercy in Motion: The Culture that Crawls in Vietnam," while WLOX-TV won for public service with its report "Home Sweet Meth Home."
This year’s winners were chosen from more than 1,000 entries in 48 categories including print, radio, television and online. The lesson from the smaller winners, especially the Kennebec Journal, is that smaller news outlets can tackle major projects successfully.