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, television, markets 1 to 50
Commentary, television, markets 51 to 210
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
In-depth reporting, magazines
In-depth reporting, television, markets 1 to 50
In-depth reporting, television, markets 51 to 210
In-depth reporting, radio
In-depth reporting, online
Single report, wire services and newspapers with more than 75,000 circulation
Single report, newspapers with less than 75,000 circulation and weeklies
Single report, magazines
Single report, television, markets 1 to 50
Single report, television, markets 51 to 210
Single report, radio
Single report, online
Beat reporting, wire services and newspapers with more than 75,000 circulation
Beat reporting, newspapers with less than 75,000 circulation and weeklies
Beat reporting, magazines
Beat reporting, television, markets 1 to 50
First place: Robert Kittle, WSPA-TV, Greenville , S.C.
Beat reporting, television, markets 51 to 210
Beat reporting, radio
Beat reporting, online