Friday, March 16, 2012

In its first year, western North Carolina weekly wins national award for service to the First Amendment

The paper continues its election-fraud coverage.
Barely a year old, a weekly newspaper has won the "Distinguished Service to the First Amendment" prize in the Scripps Howard Awards.

Jonathan and Susan Austin, who founded the Yancey County News in Burnsville in January 2011, will receive $10,000 and the Edward Willis Scripps Award for “Unlawful Law Enforcement,” which exposed absentee-ballot fraud, ethics violations, abuse of arrest powers, and the theft and illegal sale of county-owned guns – "all during the newspaper’s first year of operation and despite risks both financial and physical,"the Scripps Howard Foundation said in announcing the award today. "In winning, the Yancey County News bested entries by finalists Bloomberg News and," the paper says in its online story about the award.

Yancey County, N.C. (Wikipedia map)
Jonathan Austin "documented cases from the weeks leading up to the election in which individuals were arrested, voted, then saw the charges against them later dismissed or drastically reduced," the paper says. “People say we are doing something special here, but we’re only doing what any good journalist learns,” Austin said. “What makes this honor so unique is that we did this work in the newspaper’s very first year, that we did it with no staff, and that other local media had the chance to point out these serious issues as they occurred, but they chose to keep their eyes shut.” (Read more)

The award for community journalism went to reporter Sara Ganim and the staff of The Patriot-News in Harrisburg and Mechanicsburg, Pa., for “Jerry Sandusky and Penn State,” a two-year investigation that first uncovered the child sex abuse scandal and then explored its impact on the university. They will receive receive $10,000 and a trophy. The finalists in the category were Brandon Stahl and Mark Stodghill of the Duluth News Tribune, for “The Case of Dr. Konasiewicz,” a story about a neurosurgeon with a record of malpractice; and the Valley News of West Lebanon, N.H., and White River Junction, Vt., for “Tropical Storm Irene: The Aftermath.”

The editorial writing prize had rural flavor. It went to Jamie Lucke of the Lexington Herald-Leader for "editorials that took on Kentucky’s powerful coal industry while speaking for the voiceless and powerless in Appalachia," the foundation said. Lucke gets $10,000 and the Walker Stone Award. In another Appalachian angle, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette won $10,000 and the Edward J. Meeman Award for environmental reporting for "Pipeline," a website "led by Erich Schwartzel and Elisabeth Ponsot that is dedicated to explaining the economic, environmental and political effects of the natural-gas industry's Marcellus Shale drilling," the foundation said in its news release.

No comments: