Society of Professional Journalists — Washington, D.C., Pro Chapter
John Solomon and Kelly Riddell, journalists for The Washington Times, are the winners of the Society of Professional Journalists Washington, D.C. Professional Chapter’s highest journalistic award, the Robert D.G. Lewis Watchdog Award which comes with a $1,000 prize, for “The Clintons’ Swedish Jackpot.”
This year’s SPJ D.C. Pro chapter Dateline Awards received entries in 25 categories, covering print, TV, radio and online journalism. The Lewis Award is chosen from the winners and finalists in the Dateline Awards competition. The entries were judged by members of SPJ’s Fort Worth Chapter. The award was presented at the SPJ Chapter’s annual Dateline Awards banquet at the National Press Club on June 14.
The judge reviewing The Washington Times’ entry in the Investigative Journalism category wrote:
“Meticulously researched piece on how Bill Clinton’s charitable fundraising and speechmaking intertwined with Hillary Clinton’s official governmental work overseas.”
Meanwhile, CBS News Senior White House correspondent Bill Plante, longtime New Yorker magazine Washington reporter Elizabeth Drew and Washington Post columnist Jonetta Rose Barras were inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Washington, D.C., Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The criterion for membership in the Hall of Fame is simply this: strong journalism for at least 25 years in Washington.
List of Winners and Finalists
Here is the complete list of winners and finalists, as well as the judges’ comments, which are in italics:
Correspondent Award: (For distinguished coverage of The Washington area published or broadcast outside the Washington, D.C., area)
- Winner: Bethesda Magazine, Cindy Rich, “Please God, Make it Stop” — Excellent storytelling and sourcing. The piece draws attention to a problem that is not often discussed and does so in a sensitive, compelling way.
- Winner: The Center for Public Integrity, Susan Ferriss, Ben Wieder, Chris Zubak-Skees, “Criminalizing Kids.”
Winner: Bethesda Magazine, Miranda Spivack, “Grading Joshua Starr”– Well-sourced, comprehensively researched and nicely written piece. The writer clearly knew her topic and served the public by informing them about the inside workings of this school district.
Finalist: National Journal, Michael Mishak, “Does Labor Actually Like Hillary Clinton?” — Very good on-the-ground reporting. Well-researched piece.
Winner: Mother Jones, Katherine Reynolds Lewis, “The End of Punishment” — Fascinating story about a groundbreaking perspective on punishment and children’s classroom misbehavior. This piece employs academic research and theories as well as practical examples to illustrate how a shift in school staff responses to children could help improve their lives. Clearly written and well-researched.
Winner: Bethesda Magazine, Cindy Rich, “Please God, Make it Stop” — Excellent storytelling and sourcing. The piece draws attention to a problem that is not often discussed and does so in a sensitive, compelling way.
Finalist: The Washington Post, Libby Sander, “Saving Rural America” — Great on-the-ground reporting and description.
Finalist: Bethesda Magazine, Cindy Rich, “By You Living, They Live” — Heartbreaking story about the aftermath of a murder in the 1990s.
Winner: UDC-TV, Steven Goodman, “Higher Education Today-Undocumented Students” — Mr. Goodman and his team did an outstanding job with guests to explain the undocumented college student issue including terms, difference from DACA students, and more. This issue can get rather complicated if not explained correctly. The guests on this show were superb and explained it in “people terms” to understand a subject that can be very complicated especially if you are not one of these students. Kudos that the producers were able to get two university officials from different schools to come on the show and talk about a very controversial topic. This judge learned a lot from this show. Nice job.
Finalist: UDC-TV, Steven Goodman, “Higher Education Today-Reducing Student Loan Debt.” — Once again Mr. Goodman and his team has a very informative show. The guests were able to explain the student loan issue in “people talk” which made easier to follow the conversation.
Winner: The Center for Public Integrity, Jim Morris, Jamie Smith Hopkins, Maryam Jameel, Yue Qiu, Eleanor Bell, “Unequal Risk”
Finalist: WTOP.COM, Neal Augenstein, “Hannah Graham”
Winner: MarketWatch, Rex Nutting, “Rex Nutting’s Columns for MarketWatch”
Winner: Today.com, Eun Kim, “Meet the tattoo artist making breast cancer survivors feel ‘whole again’” — Handles sensitive topic well; develops the character of the tattoo artist and gives several human faces to an under-reported issue.
Finalist: National Journal, Arnesa Howell, “Mastering ‘Life and Knife’ Skills in a Training Kitchen” — Well written and compelling story that elicits compassion for former inmates looking to reintegrate by learning a skill.
Winner: WTOP.COM, Noah Frank, “Hall of Famer Randy Johnson finds life after sports through the lens” — There are multiple stories in this entry. If you’re looking to give an award for a single story, the Randy Johnson one is the best of them.
Winner: Arlington National Cemetery Facebook Page, Rachel Larue, “Brittany Jacobs and her Son visit the grave of her husband in Arlington National Cemetery” — Though not shot from the best angle, the photo portrays a great deal of emotion.
Winner: The Center for Public Integrity, Kristen Lombardi, Talia Buford, Ronnie Greene, Yue Qiu, “Environmental Justice, Denied” — Thoroughly investigated and written in a compelling way that brings a human face to the issue. The stories also bring attention to a serious problem in a government agency.
Finalist: The Center for Public Integrity, Douglas Birch, Adrian Levy, R. Jeffrey Smith, “Nuclear Risks” — Competently written and well-researched.
Winner: The Center for Public Integrity, Rachel Baye, Michael Beckel, Carrier Levine, “Dark Money in America”
Finalist: The Center for Public Integrity, Fred Schulte, “Medical Advantage Overcharges”
Finalist: The Center for Public Integrity, Allan Holmes, Chris Zubak-Skees, Will Fitzgibbon, Rachel Gotbaum, “Big Telecom & The People”
Winner: The Center for Public Integrity, Staff, “Swiss Leaks: Murky Cash Sheltered By Bank Secrecy”
Finalist: The Center for Public Integrity, Staff, “Evicted and Abandoned: The World Bank’s Broken Promise to the Poor”
Winner: The Center for Public Integrity, Susan Ferriss, Ben Wieder, Chris Zubak-Skees, “Criminalizing Kids.”
Finalist: Project on Government Oversight, John Crewdson, David Hilzenrath, Michael Smallberg, Charles Babcock, Lydia Dennett, “Drug Problems: Dangerous Decision-Making at the FDA”
Finalist: The Center for Public Integrity, Liz Essley Whyte, Carrie Levine, Ben Wieder, Erin Quinn, Chris Young, “Business and Politics”
Winner: WTOP, WTOP Staff, “The Visit of Pope Francis.” — Nice use of natural sounds and voices of local residents at the events. Excellent sound quality throughout. Writing and sound combine to transport the listener to the scene.
Finalist: WMAL AM/FM, Steven Burns, “Freddie Gray Trial – Coverage from the Street” — An important story and a good mix of opinion on a controversial case.
Winner: WTOP, WTOP Staff, “Metro Smoke” — Nice of use of description by the live reporters, good use of sound and an appropriate level of urgency conveyed by the coverage overall.
Winner: WMAL AM/FM, Nicole Raz, “Postcards from Vienna.” — An interesting series giving DC listeners some European perspective on issues and events impacting the U.S. and the world.
Finalist: WTOP, Megan Cloherty, “Capitol Hill’s Iron Man.” — A nice feature on a longtime broadcaster which would likely be an entertaining listen for this station’s audience.
Winner: WTOP, Andrew Mollenbeck, “Roots of a legend.” — Nice feature story on Vin Scully and the DC tie. Good of sound and writing.
Commentary & Criticism
Winner: WTOP, Chris Core, “Core Values.” — Good use of descriptive writing in these commentaries on issues of interest to local listeners.
Winner: WTOP, Jamie Forzato, “Dealing Death: Our Heroin Epidemic” — A well done series on an important local topic. Nice use of interviews and sound and to depict the reality of heroin use.
Finalist: WTOP, JJ Green, “Quiet Killer” — This is an interesting series based on a drone pilot. It gives insight into a very secretive program.
Finalist: WMAL AM/FM, Steven Burns, “Off The Rails: Metro’s Long Fall From Grace” — An interesting series on a topic important to local residents. Good use of historical context.
Winner: WTOP, Paula Wolfson, “WTOP Health Series” — A very well done series of health stories. Nice use of sound and writing to bring the impact of these cases to the listener.
Weekly Newspaper Division
Winner: Washington Blade, Michael Lavers, “Snapshots from Cuba”
Commentary & Criticism
Winner: Washington Blade, Kevin Naff, “Why I Marched in Baltimore.”
Finalist: Washington Blade, Joey DiGuglielmo, “Out organist powerful but vexing.”
Winner: Washington Blade, Kevin Naff, “Let Kameny rest in peace.”
Winner: Washington Blade, Joey DiGuglielmo, “A murky future for Phase 1.”
Finalist: Washington Blade, Mariah Cooper, “Leisure World’s LGBT residents enjoy openness, camaraderie”
Winner: Washington Blade, Lou Chibbaro, “Runaway grand jury rebukes U.S. Attorney, indicts on hate crime”
Finalist: Washington Blade, Michael Lavers, “Exclusive: Married gay man fired from Md. church”
Daily Newspaper Division
Winner: The Washington Times, John Solomon, Kelly Riddell, “The Clintons’ Swedish Jackpot.” — Meticulously researched piece on how Bill Clinton’s charitable fundraising and speechmaking intertwined with Hillary Clinton’s official governmental work overseas.
Winner: The Associated Press, Ben Nuckols, “In DC, public housing tenants forced out, then homes flipped” — Fascinating look at ways in which public housing properties are being sold as part of gentrification, with questionable benefit for poor people who need the housing.
Finalist: The Associated Press, Jessica Gresko, “Gay, straight couples say ‘I do’ to Justice Kennedy’s words” — Beautifully done piece on how gay and straight couples are incorporating into their vows some stirring words from a Supreme Court justice.
Finalist: The Washington Times, Staff, “Washington Times Papal Coverage”
Winner: The Washington Times, Anthony Gulizai, “Crowder grounded by younger brother.”– Nicely done piece on a successful athlete’s continuing connection to a special brother.
Finalist: The Washington Times, Todd Dybas, “Two Tone”
Finalist: The Washington Times, Zac Boyer, “Neyer shows grit in chasing NFL dreams”
Winner: Politico, Austin Wright, Jeremy Herb, Leigh Munsil, “Defense industry influence” — Wonky and technical, but a well done report on the important topic of attempts to reform defense industry spending practices.
Winner: The Associated Press, Jessica Gresko, “Rabbi Barry Freundel accused of videotaping 150 women”
Commentary & Criticism
Winner: The Washington Times, Peter Suderman, “Suderman Movie Reviews.” — Lovely writing, excellent research in these highly readable reviews.
Winner: The Associated Press, Jessica Gresko, “Reagan shooter finds rejection, indifference in future home” — Fascinating in-depth look at what is happening with John Hinckley Jr., all these years later.
Winner: Washington Times, Deborah Simmons, “The new D.C. sports arena and the Barry factor” — Enjoyed these well-written columns explaining the local impact of a flashy arena proposal.
Winner: Air Force Magazine, Amy McCullough, “With the Raptors over Syria”
Finalist: Tax Analysts, Stephen Cooper, Tom Kasprzak, Kaustuv Basu, “‘Black Tax’ on Estates a Red Herring?”
Finalist: Tax Analysts, Andrew Velarde, “Theories for Expatriation Numbers Abound, but Answers Elusive”
Winner: HR Magazine, Susan Milligan, “A Remarkable Transformation.”
Finalist: HR Magazine, Carole Fleck, “A lot to lose.”
Finalist: HR Magazine, Dori Meinert, “Reinventing Reviews.”
Winner: Virginia Lawyers Weekly, Paul Fletcher, “A Missed Opportunity.”
Finalist: Virginia Lawyers Weekly, Paul Fletcher, “Don’t Fire Justice Roush”
Winner: Tax Analysts, Brian Bardwell, “Sony E-Mails Show Plan to Exploit ‘Loophole’ in Expanded California Film Credits”
Finalist: Communications Daily, Warren Communications News, Howard Buskirk, Matt Daneman, John Hendel, David Kaut, Jonathan Make, Monty Tayloe, “Communications Daily Investigates Partisanship.”
Finalist: Communications Daily, Warren Communications News, Howard Buskirk, John Hendel, Jonathan Make, Jacob Rund, “Communications Daily Investigates Government Transparency”
Winner: Air Force Magazine, John Tirpak, “Aperture”
Finalist: Virginia Lawyers Weekly, Paul Fletcher, “Three Columns”
Winner: The Cancer Letter, Matthew Bin Han Ong, “How Medical Devices Do Harm”
Finalist: Communications Daily, Warren Communications News, Staff, “Communications Daily Series on Net Neutrality”
Finalist: Communications Daily, Warren Communications News, Monty Tayloe, “Communications Daily on Government Airwaves Auction”
Winner: Communications Daily, Warren Communications News, Monty Tayloe, “Communications Daily’s Tayloe Beat Reporting”
Finalist: Communications Daily, Warren Communications News, John Hendel, “Communications Daily’s Hendel Beat Reporting”
Finalist: Tax Analysts, Amy Hamilton, “Multistate Tax Compact Cases”
YouTube, All Division
Winner: The Center for Public Integrity, Maryam Jameel, Eleanor Bell, Jim Morris, “Unequal Risk: Videos.”