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Joyce Purnick Wins Columbia's Mike Berger Award

Joyce Purnick, deputy metropolitan editor of The New York Times, has won the 1997 Mike Berger Award of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism for her "Metro Matters" columns on city life. The 37th annual presentation of the award and $1,000 will be made Tuesday, May 20, at the school by Acting Dean Sandy Padwe. Ms. Purnick wrote "Metro Matters" for more than two years before becoming deputy metropolitan editor for city news this past January. Her columns during 1996 covered a range of urban problems and people, dealing, for example, with the dangers of crime in small stores that sell lottery tickets, the reluctance of women to report or testify about domestic violence, the frequent injuries to passengers in taxicabs with bullet-proof panels, the often brutal and long-term effects of violent attacks on victims who suffer brain injury, and the value of new immigrants to city life. "Joyce Purnick's stories show a remarkable eye and ear for how the city moves in the large political arenas, but she does this without sacrificing the sense of intimacy and empathy with her subjects," said Professor Craig Wolff, chair of the Berger Award jury of faculty members. The honor, named for the legendary Times reporter whose stories showed his affection for the city and its people, is given for "distinguished reporting in the Mike Berger tradition." It was created in 1960, a year after Mr. Berger's death, by New York industrialist Louis Schweitzer and has been supported since 1971 by Mr. Schweitzer's widow, Lucille Lortel Schweitzer, a theatrical producer. Ms. Purnick, a 1967 graduate of Barnard College, was a reporter for the New York Post and a political columnist for New York magazine before she joined the Times in 1979. She covered Albany, the New York school system and City Hall - where in 1985 she became the first woman bureau chief. She was a member of the newspaper's editorial board from 1989 to 1994. She received the Peter Kihss Award for outstanding reporting on New York City government, given in 1987 by the Fund for the City of New York, and the George Polk Award for excellence in journalism in 1996. 5.15.97 19,121