March 14, 2006

Columbia University 's Let's Do It Better! 2006 Workshop Awards Honors Outstanding Coverage of Race and Ethnicity

New York -- Seventeen news organizations were recognized as "best practice" award winners on the coverage of race and ethnicity in the eighth annual Columbia Graduate School of Journalism's "Let's Do It Better!" Workshop competition. The competition brings some of the best newspaper and broadcast journalists to the school to deconstruct their work on race and ethnicity coverage in America. The honored work is turned into presentations for an audience of news industry leaders and managers who attend a workshop in June designed to help them improve the diversity of their content and newsroom.

"The excellence awards recognized a variety of best practices, ranging from major investigations to the search for racial identity," said Arlene Morgan, director of the program, adding that this year's competition drew more than 100 entries, mostly from newspapers.

Sponsored by the Ford Foundation, this year's workshop will mark the debut of a new multimedia textbook, The Authentic Voice: The Best Reporting on Race and Ethnicity, a compilation of stories and broadcasts recognized over the past seven years by the program.

Top honorees
The Chicago Reporter and its editor Alysia Tate led the honoree list, winning the Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award, the highest recognition the school gives for newspaper reporting on racial issues.

A career achievement leadership award for diversity went to Wanda Lloyd, the editor of the Montgomery Advertiser. Her staff also won an award for overall excellence based on two special supplements, one marking the 50th anniversary of the Montgomery bus boycott, and the other honoring Rosa Parks, whose legendary refusal to give up her seat to a white patron sparked the bus boycott in 1955.

Bill Dedman and Steve Doig, authors of an annual report on newspaper hiring, were honored with a special recognition for their exhaustive study of the newspaper industry's minority employment trends. The study, sponsored by the Knight Foundation, examined newspaper hiring trends from 1990 to 2005 and found that newsroom diversity had "passed its peak" at most newspapers. The study is accompanied by a website, http://powerreporting.com/knight/, which includes a state by state list of 1,410 newspapers and compares its non-white employment statistics with the minority statistics of the circulation it serves.

"If we have seen one thing since this project started, it's the increase of serious work from every size newspaper, Morgan said. "Hiring and retaining journalists of color continues to be a problem, but good work is being accomplished, and that is the goal of this program."

"The downside," she said, "is that we rarely find anything of merit on the local television side. While local television may look diverse with its anchors, reporters, and weather people, our competition shows that in terms of well-conceived stories, it lags way behind in comparison to the networks, cable, public television and newspapers. This is a real concern since many people use the local news stations to keep up with what's going on in their communities."

Morgan said the judges recognized The Chicago Reporter with its annual $1,000 Tobenkin Award because of its "long-standing commitment to cover the struggles of race and poverty and for showing that a newspaper does not have to be a mainstream behemoth to undertake challenging and courageous work." Chicago Matters, the paper's unique multimedia public affairs series in print, television, radio and community conversations, was recognized for its "fresh feel," reporting on hot button topics through a clear-eyed, informative and fair style. Morgan said The Chicago Reporter offers journalism "a model of how to tackle race issues with thorough reporting, a wide cast of sources and lively writing."

The Tobenkin prize was established in 1959 after the death of Paul Tobenkin, a reporter for the New York Herald Tribune who spent his career covering issues surrounding racial intolerance and discrimination.

Wanda Lloyd, who took over as editor of The Montgomery Advertiser in 2003, will receive a career achievement leadership award based on "her history of commitment to hiring people and training minorities, and to making every newspaper she worked for more representative of its total community," Morgan said.

In 2001, Lloyd briefly left the newspaper business to become the founding director of the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute, a training program at Vanderbilt University designed to develop minorities for second careers as reporters for the small to medium markets. As a member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Lloyd has worked in board and committee positions to foster projects to improve the content and hiring necessary for a more inclusive report.

"If there were more editors like Lloyd, we would not have the hiring and retention problems that continue to plague the news business," said Morgan.

Excellence Awards for general reporting on race and ethnicity went to:

Newspapers:

The Dallas Morning News for "Striking Differences," written by Steve McConigle, Holly Becka, Jennifer LaFleur and Tim Wyatt. The project, which examined Dallas' jury selection and uncovered wholesale bias against blacks, was cited for methodology that was "arduous and time-consuming but necessary to get an unvarnished look at the influence of race in jury selection." The paper also received an "honorable mention" for "A New Face of Affluence," a series that over a period of months examined the dynamics of affluent blacks living in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

The Houston Chronicle for "One Nation, Two Worlds," a three-part series humanizing the day-to-day lives of illegal immigrants. Reported by Tony Freemantle, Edward Hegstrom, and Elena Vega, the series was recognized for giving "voice to the voiceless" through vivid and detailed reporting, strong writing and the courage to find undocumented immigrants who had the courage to tell their stories.

The Miami Herald and The Philadelphia Inquirer for a joint "searching for identity" project, written by The Herald's Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts with photographs by Sarah Glover of The Inquirer. The project offered a two-part series, documenting a journey to Niger, Africa that Pitts took in search of his ancestral roots. This series was lauded for showing "the aching void that blacks feel about their missing heritage -- something that perhaps white readers could identify with" and "hits some common chords about the quest for heritage"

The Times-Union in Jacksonville, Florida for Phillip Milano's "Dare to Ask" portfolio of columns that explore race relations through a series of questions and answers that often provoke, but always illuminate. The column, an outgrowth of Milano's online forums, was applauded for encouraging people to ask questions about race, culture and other sensitive subjects that are rarely discussed in any news media format.

The Sacramento Bee for "The Pineros: Men of the Pines," an investigation by reporter Tom Knudson and photographer Hector Amerzcua into the extensive mistreatment and abuse of Latino workers who work in federal and private forests. The series was recognized for documenting the long-standing "lack of training, safety abuses, injuries and deaths" that led to a vow of reform from the U.S. Forest Service.

The Star Tribune, Minneapolis for "Shamed to Silence." Reporters Dan Browning, Pam Louwagie and photographer Stormi Greener were recognized for their outstanding investigative series which unveiled a pattern of gang rapes and prostitution involving young Hmong girls. The project was recognized as an "outstanding" example of telling a serious social problem in the Hmong community without "sugar coating" it.

The Roanoke Times for Elizabeth Ann Macy's illuminating series, " An Unlikely Refuge." The judges cited Macy for her detailed examination into the cultural gaps that faced Bantu refugees from Somalia as they resettled in Roanoke, Va. The project was cited for its excellent use of the website to enhance presentation and for putting "human faces on refugees," reflecting "the challenges, fears, confusion, and miscommunication that are endemic in the refugee experience."

The Washington Post for the work of three reporters: Phuong Ly for her portfolio of work on immigrant communities in the D.C. area; Mitra Kalita for her portfolio of stories on immigrant and minority business issues; and Shankar Vedantam for a three-part series, "Mind and Culture: Psychiatry's Missing Diagnosis," a project that examines the racial, ethnic and social disparities in treating mental illness. In each case, the judges found that the reporters used their beats to go "beyond expectations in providing readers with a thoughtful and unpredictable view through the prism of race and ethnicity."

Television:

ABC News, Prime Time for "Prussian Blue"
Cynthia McFadden, correspondent and Jim Dubreuil, producer

CNN Presents for "High Stakes: The Battle to Save Our Schools"
Kathy Slobogin, managing editor CNN Presents; Stanley Nelson, senior producer, and John J. Valadez, producer and director, Firelight Media, Inc.

TV One Access for "The Missing and the Media"
Shaun Robinson, anchor/correspondent; Monique Chenault, senior producer, editorial; Charmaine Lewis, field producer

CBS News, 60 Minutes for two stories:

"The Bridge to Gretna"
Ed Bradley, correspondent and Harry Radliffe, producer

"Dying to Get In"
Ed Bradley, correspondent and David Gelber, producer

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams for "After the Storm The Long Road Back," a compilation of coverage on the racial and class aspects of the Katrina Hurricane story.
Brian Williams, anchor; Bob Faw, Rehema Elllis, Kerry Sanders and Ron Mott, correspondents; John Reiss, executive producer

ESPN's Outside the Lines for its investigative feature "3 of 119," about the lack of black football coaches at universities. Bob Ley, anchor and Rob King, Sr., coordinating producer

About the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
For almost a century, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism has been preparing journalists in a program that stresses academic rigor, ethics, journalistic inquiry and professional practice. Founded by Joseph Pulitzer in 1912, the school offers Master of Science, Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees.

About Columbia University
Founded in 1754 as King's College, Columbia University in the City of New York is the fifth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and today is one of the world's leading academic and research institutions. For more information about Columbia University, visit www.columbia.edu .