2005 Judges Comments
2005 ASNE Awards judges commentsPosted 2/18/2005 12:00:00 AM
DEADLINE NEWS REPORTING – TEAM
The Washington Post – A stunning amount of information blended a sweeping narrative with clarity and economy of expression. An unusual command of detail, given the early stage of the story (about the tsunami). It paints a global picture of what happened, setting readers up for the worsening news the week brought.
- San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News – Graceful and witty coverage. Written in a way that is aware of the cultural context of this trial. An irresistible read. The writing is highly descriptive and vivid.
- The Wall Street Journal – This reporting and writing about the merger of Kmart and Sears was a superb example of a complex story made accessible to lay readers with a skillful blending of foreground and background. Explains the cultural context of these highly recognizable brands and the retail world in which they operated. The reader learns a lot about the business, about shopping and about how things have changed. Told with great clarity.
DEADLINE NEWS REPORTING – INDIVIDUAL
Dexter Filkins, The New York Times – Very skillful window into the world of urban warfare. Stories had vivid, colorful detail and are noteworthy for the economy of the writing. Reading Filkins evokes unforgettable scenes that keep the reader engaged. These are colorfully, beautifully written pieces.
- Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times – Kim Murphy was all over the school-siege story from Beslon, Russia. She kept track of a multitude of threads to this complicated story, enriching her copy with carefully selected details that give real power to the storytelling. In the midst of all this, she managed to pull off a scoop about the involuntary confinement of Chechen family members.
- David Perlman, San Francisco Chronicle – Perlman’s writing about space is engaging and authoritative while avoiding technical jargon. He weaves an amazing amount of factual material into a narrative that is both sophisticated and full of the wonder of discovery.
M.J. Wilde, The Albuquerque (N.M.) Tribune – M.J. Wilde tackles some weighty issues and brings a sense of humor. And she tackles some less than weighty issues and brings a sense of humor. She’s refreshing. Her outlook keeps life in perspective.
- Brian McGrory, The Boston Globe – He’s a contemporary version of the old style street columnist, a hugely accessible writer with impressive range and deep feel for the city he works. He celebrates the ordinary quality of Boston’s citizens – the charitable homeless guy, the saintly nun – and can tee off with gusto on the legislature’s anti-gay obsession. And he can be quite funny, as witness his explanation of Boston to the incoming Democratic conventioneers.
- Rich Brooks, Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune – Rich Brooks’ writing does not bow to the fact that he has ALS. He uses a wheelchair and can’t speak, but his writing does it for him with power and conviction.
- Howard Troxler, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times – Howard Troxler has a powerful voice in his columns. He can be tough, but he isn’t mean spirited. He brings strong reporting skills and smart thinking to his columns. He knows how to put words together in an engaging, fun way that makes you know he understands what makes a great column.
Babita Persaud, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times – The intimate view of two cultures within one family is a wonderful blend of comprehensive reporting and seamless storytelling. The subject is arranged marriages in modern America. Main characters include a mid-20s daughter ready for matrimony and parents hoping she will yield to rituals cast thousands of years ago in their native India. Writer Babita Persaud crafts a story packed knowing and caring detail. She deftly follows the increasingly difficult struggle to preserve ancient tradition. The writer provides great insights into the tense middle ground occupied by youths like Vibha Dhawan, who seem to neither fully embrace or fully reject customs so central to previous generations. Readers get a dramatically told story of culture and change, family and love.
- Josh Peter, The Times-Picayune, New Orleans – The deeply embedded practice of segregated schools in the South is tackled with an original twist. In vivid language, Josh Peter updates readers on how some whites-only academies created after courts ordered public schools desegregated were now giving way to change. One such school accepted a promising football standout who is black. Another African American kid longed to join his white best friends at a school unthinkable for him to attend a generation ago. At one academy, administrators faced the prospect of closing down if they could not attract more students. Peter blended these tales of sometimes unexpected and contradictory motivations with fine storytelling clarity.
- Adam Fifield, The Philadelphia Inquirer – An vividly complete telling of a compelling story. Adam Fitfield explores persistent problems for some Cambodians who resettled in the U.S. years ago. He writes about the dilemma of immigrants with a fresh eye. He features Bunrath Math, a Philadelphia social worker struggling to come to terms with family tragedy and with a haunting mystery. A brother hasn’t been seen in 28 years, and Bunrath doesn’t know whether he survived Pol Pot’s violent era or its aftermath. Fifield’s narrative-driven accounts from Cambodia place readers in villages revisited by Bunrath, in search of answers. His insightful storytelling captures the mixed blessings of lives not yet settled.
David Barham, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Little Rock – David Barham grabs a readers’ attention with bold leads like “Dear European pig-doll radical Zionist crusader goat-faced sons of jackals.” And gets out of the office – a lot – to make his work more real. Most importantly, he blends imagination, persuasion, knowledge and superb use of language into powerful editorials.
- Mark Mahoney, The Post-Star, Glens Falls, N.Y. – Whether it’s local (a needless highway checkpoint) or universal (teens and alcohol) Mark Mahoney uses the full writer’s arsenal to produce potent persuasive writing. There’s humor – he actually pulls off a Dr. Suess-ish rhyme about the city council. He personalizes remote issues – describes the drivers’ view of the looming highway hazard, a parent’s reflection or a sleepy child who will be a teenager. And he takes a great shot: “New York State’s government for years has been little more than an overpaid mass of goo in an expensive suit.”
Helen O’Neill, Associated Press – O’Neill’s writing is spare, exciting, intimate. The pace is relentless, the cliffhangers nail-biting. There simply wasn’t a false note in the series; it was authentic to the core. It’s a good thing Grandma Braun got saved or readers across the U.S. would have formed a lynch mob.
- Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune – Julia Keller’s work sings. Her story reconstructing the devastating effects of a tornado on a small town is rich in detail and literary devices. She puts the reader there and makes the people real. And her endings are splendid.
- Meredith May, San Francisco Chronicle – The story of 9-year-old Saleh Khalaf’s devastating injuries from a bomb in Iraq and his recovery is nothing short of miraculous. Meredith May captures every important moment of it by putting the reader right in the action and not trying to “write” it; she lets the story tell itself. She has a wonderful feeling for Saleh and can help us understand that there is something remarkable about this boy, something that made an Army doctor throw out the rules and sleep by his bedside, that made an important children’s hospital agree to take him for free from Baghdad to Oakland, Calif., that made a team of doctors and nurses care for him deeply. She also captured the love of his family and how this tragedy brought them great sorrow and happiness.
Alana Baranick, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland – With vivid detail and direct language, Baranick creates richly textured portraits of everyday folks who become extraordinary through her words. From the lady who raised bunnies to the man who sold orthopedic shoes, Baranick’s characters are warm and funny, far from perfect, and altogether human. Avoiding clichés and oversimplification, Baranick engages the reader by finding a narrative thread that captures the essence of her subjects.
- Margalit Fox, The New York Times – Margalit Fox offers insightful examinations of the lives of an array of interesting characters she rescues from the archives. She can turn a phrase in ways that convert the arcane into interesting and informative nuggets of a lifetime. Her summary graphs are elegant and textured, long but also displaying an economy of words.
- Adam Bernstein, The Washington Post – His obituary writing does a great job revealing the small details and anecdotes that get at the essence of the person. His sentences are packed with information, but in a way that creates a memorable image of a scene in a person’s life. His leads are powerful and memorable. The pieces are complex yet stylish.
COMMUNITY SERVICE PHOTOJOURNALISM
Carol Guzy, The Washington Post – Carol Guzy earned the trust that gained her a hall pass into the life of John Thomas, a young man facing difficult life choices during a tumultuous year at Washington’s Ballou High School. Guzy’s access, and the trust of her subject, John Thomas, helped paint a phenomenal and realistic story. With the highest degree of technical capability, Guzy and her skillful eye embraced her subject with dignity and concern.
- Robert Gauthier, Los Angeles Times – King/Drew Medical Center, built out of the Watts riots as symbol of hope for many black people in Los Angeles, has become a place that frequently harmed patients it was built to heal. Rob Gauthier made that clear with an unfailing lens that captured neglect in the reality of seeing a mother in despair over the death of her child because of errors by the medical staff. And of a woman hearing for first the first time that her reproductive organs had been removed in error.
- Manny Crisostomo, The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee – The evocative images captured by Manny Crisostomo carried readers of the Bee through an amazing journey and helped them understand their future neighbors – the last wave of Hmong refugees to exit Thailand. Cristostomo talked his way past Thai guards and built trust with wary Hmong and then, in five months of intense work, revealingly illustrated a compelling and complete story.