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Journalism School Presents 'Let's Do It Better!' Awards for Coverage of Race and Ethnicity


Columbia University has announced the winners of the 2004 Let's Do It Better! Awards for outstanding coverage of race and ethnicity in print and broadcast journalism. Veteran ABC broadcaster Carole Simpson leads a list of 19 journalists and news organizations being honored. Winners receive an honorarium and will present their work at the Let's Do It Better! Workshop on Race and Ethnicity, a conference for professional journalists to be held June 1-12, 2004 , at the Graduate School of Journalism. The workshop, offered in conjunction with the awards, aims to promote multicultural sensitivity in newsrooms.

"This year's winners boldly confront the multicultural topics inherent in our society," said Arlene Morgan, program director of Let's Do It Better! and assistant dean of continuing education for the Journalism School . Morgan led a 25-member jury of editors, broadcasters and journalism educators in making the selections, which include Career Achievement Awards, a broadcast Leadership Award, the Paul Tobenkin Award, a special leadership citation and other excellence awards.

The judges awarded Carole Simpson a Career Achievement Award in broadcast leadership, citing her lifelong commitment to diversifying the broadcast industry through her stories, hiring initiatives as the anchor of ABC's The World News Tonight Weekend broadcast, and mentoring of dozens of young journalists.

"Carole Simpson is a role model for every journalist who wants to lead a news report and newsroom based on inclusion, not exclusion," said Morgan. "Simpson has contributed hours and hours of her time and her own money to develop talent that reflects America 's multiculturalism."

Elizabeth Llorente of The Record in Bergen , N.J. , won a Career Achievement Award for print reporters in recognition of her more than 10 years of coverage of race and demographics.

"She is one of the first journalists in the nation to recognize the importance of the nation's changing demographics," said Morgan. Llorente also was cited for contributions she has made to teach other journalists, regardless of their race or ethnic background, about the cultural competency required to report on diverse communities.

Llorente's series, Diverse and Divided , which documents the racial tension and political struggles between African Americans and Hispanic immigrants in Paterson , N.J. , "is an unvarnished look into the tension that permeates every aspect of life in that working class city and others like it around the country," said Morgan.

In the broadcast category, WMTW, an ABC television affiliate in Auburn , Maine , won the top broadcast Leadership Award for an exhaustive series on the impact of Somali immigration on the community.

"WMTW's series put a human face on the immigrants who were trying to fit into a predominately Franco-American community that was ill-prepared to accept them," said Morgan. "It also created a community discussion regarding the city's coping policies, representing the best of what local television can accomplish when it is committed to taking reporting risks, rather than the predictable daily dish of police, fire and weather reports."

The Winston-Salem Journal won the $1,000 Paul Tobenkin Award for outstanding achievement for newspaper reporting about race with an eight-part investigation on the wrongful conviction of Darryl Hunt. The award cites reporter Phoebe Zerwick and the paper for upholding the spirit of Paul Tobenkin, a reporter for the old New York Herald Tribune who died in 1959.

The Journal's series, which helped gain the release of Hunt and the subsequent arrest of Willard Brown for the 20-year-old murder of Deborah Sykes, "epitomizes the best that journalism has to offer. The Tobenkin is the highest award the school can bestow on a newspaper for the coverage of racial intolerance, hate crimes or discrimination," Morgan said.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel in Ft. Lauderdale earned a special leadership citation for its portfolio of work, including a two-year series of stories on the impact of AIDS/HIV and an in-depth look into the economic and environmental problems in Haiti .

"The Sun-Sentinel entry was a comprehensive portfolio, showing how a newspaper can integrate its daily report through columns, special projects and regular stories," said Morgan. "Editor Earl Maucker and his staff have shown remarkable commitment to covering their backyard which includes the horror of what is going on in Haiti and how that impacts the people who live in their region."

The Let's Do it Better! 2004 Excellence Award winners are:

Print Excellence Awards:

1. The Dallas Morning News , Karen Thomas: "For a Moment, Family"

2. The Denver Post , Michael Riley: "A Grim Gamble"

3. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Portfolio of Stories

4. The Los Angeles Times , Team Report: "Green Card Marines"

5. The Orange County Register , Anh Do, Teri Sforza, Cindy Yamanaka: "The Boy Monk"

6. The Oregonian , Angie Chuang: A Portfolio of Work

7. The Record , Elizabeth Llorente: "Diverse and Divided"

8. The San Jose Mercury News , Carolyn Jung: "The New Faces of Wine"

9. The Star-Tribune , Minneapolis , Gregory A. Patterson: "Heart and Soul"

10. The Wall Street Journal , Teri Agins: "A Fashion House with an Elite Aura Wrestles with Race"

11. The Wall Street Journal , Bryan Gruley: War Stories:

"For Lt. Withers, Act of Kindness Has Unexpected Sequel"

12. The Winston-Salem Journal and Reporter Phoebe Zerwick, the Darryl Hunt Investigation, Paul Tobenkin Award

Broadcast Excellence Awards:

• ABC, The World News Tonight Weekend broadcast. Correspondents John Quinones and Elizabeth Vargas, "Mexican-American Experience"

• ABC, Nightline . Correspondent Chris Bury, "Nation of Immigrants: The Shadow Workers of Las Vegas "

• California Newsreel . Executive Producer Laurence Adelman, "The Power of an Illusion," a three-part series

• CBS, 60 Minutes . Correspondent Ed Bradley, "Alice Coles of Bayview"

• CBS, 60 Minutes II . Correspondent Bob Simon, "The Death of LCPL Gutierrez"

• PBS, Executive Producers June Cross and Dante James, "This Far By Faith," a spiritual journey of the African-American church in America.

• New York 1 News, Managing Editor Peter Landis and team, Portfolio of Daily Stories From the New York Boroughs

• WMTW, Linda Gardner and Kevyn Fowler, for a year-long series on the impact of Somali immigration on Auburn , Maine .


The Let's Do It Better! Workshop on Race and Ethnicity, now in its sixth year, is sponsored by the Ford Foundation. Designed to showcase reporting best news practices, the program results in an intense three-day workshop each June for senior newsroom managers who want to improve their own storytelling on race and ethnicity as well as create a more diverse newsroom. This year some of the winners will be asked to present their work at a second workshop called Unity, the joint convention of the minority journalism organizations to be held in August in Washington , D.C.

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Published: Feb 25, 2004
Last modified: Jan 10, 2005

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