Stateline Story

Awards Honor Best Statehouse Reporting

  • August 07, 2007
  • By John Gramlich

PHILADELPHIA - The Illinois statehouse press corps and Stateline.org were among the big winners Saturday night (Aug. 4) during an awards ceremony honoring the nation's best statehouse journalism.

The awards - announced during the eighth annual meeting of Capitolbeat, a nationwide association of reporters and editors who cover state government - acknowledged excellence in newspaper, magazine, online, radio and television journalism focusing on state politics and policy.

News outlets from Illinois took home a combined 10 awards across seven categories, led by Illinois Issues magazine (four awards) and The State Journal-Register (three awards), both based in Springfield .

Reporters from the Chicago Tribune, WUIS/Illinois Public Radio and the Springfield bureau of The Associated Press rounded out the honors for the Illinois state press corps. Each organization picked up one award.

Stateline.org
, meanwhile, fared better than any other single news organization in the awards ceremony, claiming seven total honors across four categories in online journalism.

Bruce Rushton, a staff writer with The State Journal-Register, won the prestigious John Aubuchon Freedom of Information Award for his six-part series exploring open-government laws in Illinois .

Barbara Peterson of the First Amendment Foundation of Florida, who judged Rushton's stories, praised The State Journal-Register for giving the series prominence.

"The competition was fierce, but The State Journal-Register did something that I've not seen another newspaper do: It made access to government information a front-page story, above the fold, every day for an entire week," Peterson said in her critique of the series.

Bethany Carson of Illinois Issues won three awards, including first-place honors for online beat reporting, which she shared with colleague Deanese Williams-Harris. Charles N. Wheeler III captured another first place for Illinois Issues for magazine commentary.

Amanda Vinicky of WUIS/Illinois Public Radio won first place for in-depth radio reporting.

Daniel C. Vock, a staff writer with Stateline.org , took home three awards, including first-place honors in the category of best single online report for his story " Quick cancer mandate raises health concerns."

Pamela M. Prah and Pauline Vu of Stateline.org each received a pair of second-place honors. Prah was acknowledged for online beat reporting and in-depth online reporting for her story " 2006 is year of surpluses, social issues"; Vu was honored for best online commentary (shared with Vock) and best single online report for her story " Lake Wobegon, U.S.A. - where all the children are above average."

Christine Vestal of Stateline.org was awarded third-place honors for in-depth online reporting for her story " States probe limits of abortion policy."

The Northest News Network won four awards for radio reporting. Olympia , Wash. , correspondent Austin Jenkins took home first-place honors for best radio beat reporting and best single radio report, and won second place for in-depth radio reporting along with Salem. , Ore. , reporter Chris Lehman. Lehman also took third place for best single radio report.

Capitolbeat was founded in 1999 and has 250 members.

All Capitolbeat 2007 awards:

John Aubuchon Freedom of Information Award


Bruce Rushton, The State Journal-Register, Springfield , Ill. : " Request Denied "

Commentary, wire services and newspapers with more than 75,000 circulation

Commentary, newspapers with less than 75,000 circulation and weeklies

Commentary, magazines

Commentary, television, markets 1 to 50

None

Commentary, television, markets 51 to 210

First place: Joan Cartan-Hansen, Idaho Public Television, " Dialogue "

Commentary, radio

None

Commentary, online

  • First place: Leslie Robinson, Colorado Confidential, Denver , Colo.
  • Second place: Daniel C. Vock and Pauline Vu, Stateline.org , Washington , D.C.
  • Third place: Derek N. Wallbank, Lansing State Journal, Lansing , Mich.

In-depth reporting, wire services and newspapers with more than 75,000 circulation

In-depth reporting, newspapers with less than 75,000 circulation and weeklies

  • First place: Megan Poinski, Tim Fields, Lynn Freehill, Joe Tsidulko, Aesha Duval, Joy Blackburn, Christine Lett, Ian Morrison, The Virgin Islands Daily News, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, "The Turnbull Era: 1999-2006; Eight years at Government House"
  • Second place: James Sinks, The Bulletin, Bend , Ore. , "Changing Oregon: Our shifting political landscape"
  • Third place: Dean Olsen, The State Journal-Register, Springfield , Ill. , "All Kids Prognosis"

In-depth reporting, magazines

None

In-depth reporting, television, markets 1 to 50

First place: John Daley, KSL-TV, Salt Lake City, Utah, " Follow the money "

In-depth reporting, television, markets 51 to 210

None

In-depth reporting, radio

In-depth reporting, online

Single report, wire services and newspapers with more than 75,000 circulation

  • First place: Andy Furillo, The Sacramento Bee , Sacramento , Calif. , "Prisons' legal strain"
  • Second place: Robert Tanner, The Associated Press, "Arson on Trial"
  • Third place: Ted Wendling and T.C. Brown, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio , "Gas tax"
  • Honorable mention: David Lieb, The Associated Press, "Forgotten roads"

Single report, newspapers with less than 75,000 circulation and weeklies

Single report, magazines

Single report, television, markets 1 to 50

None

Single report, television, markets 51 to 210

  • First place: Bill McAllister, KTUU, Anchorage , Alaska , "Murkowski profile"
  • Second place: Loretta Boniti, WVIR, Charlottesville , Va. , "Political outlook: Virginia Assembly"

Single report, radio

Single report, online

Beat reporting, wire services and newspapers with more than 75,000 circulation

  • First place: Don Thompson, The Associated Press, Sacramento , Calif.
  • Second place: Susan Livio, The Star-Ledger, Newark , N.J.
  • Third place: Brett Blackledge, The Birmingham News, Birmingham , Ala.
  • Honorable mention: Ray Long, John Chase, Rick Pearson, David Kidwell, Jeff Coen and David Jackson, Chicago Tribune, Chicago , Ill.
  • Honorable mention: John O'Connor, The Associated Press, Springfield , Ill.

Beat reporting, newspapers with less than 75,000 circulation and weeklies

Beat reporting, magazines

None

Beat reporting, television, markets 1 to 50

First place: Robert Kittle, WSPA-TV, Greenville , S.C.

Beat reporting, television, markets 51 to 210

  • First place: Loretta Boniti, WVIR, Charlottesville , Va.
  • Second place: Bill McAllister, KTUU, Anchorage , Alaska

Beat reporting, radio

Beat reporting, online

  • First place: Bethany Carson and Deanese Williams-Harris , Illinois Issues, Springfield , Ill.
  • Second place: Pamela M. Prah, Stateline.org, Washington , D.C.
  • Third place: Daniel C. Vock, Stateline.org, Washington , D.C.