2014 WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS’ ASSOCIATION JOURNALISM AWARDS
The White House Correspondents’ Association announced the winners of its journalism awards, which were presented at the annual dinner of the association on Saturday, May 3, 2014.
The judges chose two winners this year for Aldo Beckman Memorial Award, which recognizes repeated excellence in White House coverage. They are Glenn Thrush of Politico and Brianna Keilar of CNN.
The judges of the Merriman Smith Memorial Award, which recognizes deadline work in both print and broadcast, honored Peter Baker of the New York Times and Peter Maer of CBS.
And the judges of the Edgar A. Poe Award, which recognizes coverage of news of national or regional significance, chose two winners. They are Megan Twohey and a team at Reuters, and a joint work by The Center for Public Integrity in partnership with ABC News. An Honorable mention goes to The Seattle Times and reporter Craig Welch and photographer Steve Ringman.
THE ALDO BECKMAN MEMORIAL AWARD
The award this year is given equally to two entries, Glenn Thrush of Politico and Brianna Keilar of CNN.
From the judges:
Glenn Thrush’s “Locked in the Cabinet” is an incisive piece of journalism that prompts some remarkable and candid admissions from Obama confidantes and takes us deep inside the process to better understand how Obama governs and manages. It is brilliantly written and utterly compelling. Thrush’s description of the administration’s “lurching, improvisational character” sheds light on both the process and the problems this administration has confronted. It even gives us a history lesson of the origins of the political term “cabinet.” This is a powerful and well-constructed piece of narrative journalism that provides information interpretation and perspective.
Brianna Keilar’s excellent, detailed and utterly approachable reporting sheds light on many of the specifics that have led to the political debacle of the affordable care act. Several stories revolve around information or documents obtained exclusively by CNN. The material is presented with compelling clarity, vivid production values and rock-solid documentation. These stories provide a vital narrative and understanding as they unfold over time. In every way––reporting, writing, presentation and production––these stories contribute context and understanding and demonstrate both breaking news and enterprise excellence.
THE MERRIMAN SMITH MEMORIAL AWARD
The award is given in a print and broadcast category.
From the judges:
Print: Peter Baker, The New York Times
“Obama Seeks Approval by Congress for Strike in Syria”
Aug. 31, 2013
Peter Baker’s breaking coverage of the White House’s sudden shift on what was expected to be a day of military strikes against Syria was, in the words of one judge, “well-reported, insightful, informative, thorough and all done under deadline pressure.” As the story continued to shift under his feet, Baker drew on his wealth of sources to deliver comprehensive coverage that managed to deliver historical context along with up-to-the-minute developments and political reaction to the news. The depth of that reporting resulted in a story that took readers from White House inner circles to Capitol Hill and beyond, and gave them historical context as well as a look at what might happen next. It is an outstanding piece of deadline work.
Broadcast: Peter Maer, CBS News
Feb. 26, 2013
Peter Maer’s story on the potential impact of budget sequestration did what White House reporters too rarely do: It humanized a national political story, and managed to do so on an extremely tight deadline, no less. Maer’s initiative took what could have been tossed off as just another speech story and instead put a complex issue in context, through his use of distinctive new voices and his own background knowledge of the story. He gives listeners a piece that is concise without shortchanging any of the issues or emotions. Richly detailed, good storytelling all around on an important breaking news story.
EDGAR A. POE AWARD
The award is given equally to two entries: Megan Twohey of Reuters and The Center for Public Integrity in partnership with ABC News.
From the judges:
“The Child Exchange: Inside America’s Underground Market for Adopted Children,” by Megan Twohey
This chilling and thoroughly reported project raised awareness of a significant problem that most Americans had never heard of before: adoptions gone awry, and the fallout from what happens to the children afterward. The team broke new ground, creating databases and mining social media bulletin boards to show how adopted children–often from overseas–can be handed off to strangers with little if any government oversight or regulation, often with tragic consequences. For unveiling the dark side of the informal and damaging practice known as “private re-homing,” Megan Twohey and the team at Reuters share the Poe award.
“Breathless and Burdened: Dying from black lung, buried by law and medicine,” The Center for Public Integrity, in partnership with ABC News
This team showed how a true collaboration between media partners can break significant new ground on an already well-reported story, in this case the destructiveness of coal mining and the “black lung” that miners have suffered from for many decades. In their yearlong investigation, CPI’s Chris Hamby and ABC’s Matthew Mosk and Brian Ross examined how big-name doctors and lawyers, working at the behest of the coal industry, have helped defeat the benefits claims of miners sick and dying of black lung. And they showed how this was occurring even as disease rates are on the rise and an increasing number of miners are turning to a system that was supposed to help them.
The Seattle Times and reporter Craig Welch and photographer Steve Ringman
This pair spent months, traveling from Alaska in the North Pacific to Papua New Guinea in the South Pacific to detail what is at stake as ocean chemistry changes. They examined hundreds of peer-reviewed studies, interviewed 150 people around the world and even learned to deep-sea dive to document how the world’s oceans are essentially being poisoned, and the risks that poses to marine sea life and the entire global eco-system.
Judges for the Aldo Beckman:
Ellen Shearer, Medill News Service in DC
Frank Sesno, School of Media and Public Affairs, The George Washington University
Indira Somani, Assistant Professor, Howard University
Judges for the Merriman Smith:
Steve Crane, Cronkite News Service, Arizona State University in DC
Amos Gelb, Medill News Service, Northwestern in DC
Barbara Cochran, University of Missouri in DC
Judges for the Edgar A. Poe:
Tom Diemer, Medill News Service, Washington, DC
A’Lelia Bundles, Foundation for the National Archives, DC
Josh Meyer, Medill News Service, Northwestern, DC
Amy Eisman, American University, DC
THE PRESIDENT’S AWARD
The President’s Award was created this year to honor exceptional service to the White House Correspondents’ Association. On the recommendation of the association president and by vote of the board, it is given to:
George E. Condon Jr.
George Condon is a unique friend to this association. He served as a board member and as president in 1993-1994. He has continued to serve our members, our staff, and our board for two decades since then. He serves as the fair and impartial arbiter of our elections. Most importantly this year, George is the unofficial historian of our group in a centennial year when we have worked to unearth and record our history, the good and the bad. Starting more than two years ago, he worked to build the record of the group and its dinner. He helped research the Centennial video. He was one of the panelists for our centennial event at the Decatur House. His research also led him to the story of the first African American reporter to cover a presidential press conference, in spite of the WHCA, and prompted his recommendation that we create the Harry S. McAlpin, Jr. Scholarship.
George is White House correspondent for National Journal. Earlier, he covered the White House and national politics as Washington bureau chief for Copley News Service and the San Diego Union-Tribune. He led the team that won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for coverage of the corruption of Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham. Condon is a past president not only of the WHCA but also of the Gridiron Club and past chairman of the National Press Foundation.