SACRAMENTO, Calif., Feb. 4, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The McClatchy Company (NYSE: MNI) today announced 12 President's Awards for journalists who uncovered wrongdoing, captured the compelling local stories on every platform and celebrated achievements ranging from a World Series victory to the first women to graduate from an Army Ranger school.
The Kansas City Star won two awards, one for revelations that led to the resignation of one of the state's top legislators and prompted a sweeping review of practices at the state capitol, and another for innovation in its coverage of the Kansas City Royals' World Series run.
The Belleville News-Democrat was recognized for a series of stories that documented the failure of local prosecutors to pursue rape charges and the string of personal tragedies that accompanied the cases.
The Miami Herald won for stories about two South Florida law enforcement agencies that set up a scheme to launder tens of millions of dollars from criminal enterprises without ever making arrests or even enforcing laws broken under their noses. El Nuevo Herald's Antonio Maria Delgado won for his singular and relentless coverage of Venezuela.
The McClatchy President's Awards, now in their 16th year, recognize the best work of 2015 by the company's 29 newsrooms, with particular emphasis on digital accomplishments, innovation and exemplary reporting, writing, photography and videography.
The Biloxi Sun Herald, with support from McClatchy's video team, was recognized for coverage of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The Sun Herald's compelling report on how the community has recovered was delivered across all platforms, with particular focus on mobile publishing.
Several of the winners captured compelling stories about their community's strengths and shortcomings.
With magnificent photography, elegant writing and unparalleled access, The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer's Chuck Williams followed a class at the U.S. Army Ranger school through training that ended with the first women earning the coveted Ranger tabs. The Sacramento Bee's Cynthia Hubert told the heart-breaking story of a homeless woman who lived and died on the streets. The Hilton Head Island Packet revealed how a stretch of highway was needlessly killing motorists – a report that will clearly end up saving lives.
The Raleigh News & Observer won for "true accountability journalism" for Joe Neff's reporting that uncovered spending abuses by the head of the State Employees Association that ended up sending the director to jail.
The Myrtle Beach Sun News was honored for its approach to flooding that engulfed the region this fall. The small news staff managed to reflect the enormity of the story at the same time as they provided desperately needed information in every format there is. The judges also recognized the excellent video work done jointly by The Sun News and McClatchy's video staff.
The McClatchy Washington Bureau, along with newsrooms in Belleville, Ill.; Boise, Idaho; Tri-Cities, Wa.; Columbia, S.C.; Fort Worth, Tx.; and Kansas City, Mo., was recognized for an ambitious project that uncovered the trail of sickness and death that followed the nation's nuclear armament program of the last generation.
"The quality and impact of this work across the country is most impressive," said Pat Talamantes, McClatchy's president and CEO. "This is the reason we are in this business. We're very proud of the journalists who are serving their communities with journalism that makes a difference in all kinds of ways.''
Judging the competition this year were Joyce Dehli, former vice president of news at Lee Enterprises; Marty Kaiser, past editor of The (Milwaukee) Journal Sentinel and a former president of the American Society of News Editors; Tim Grieve, McClatchy's head of news strategies; and Anders Gyllenhaal, McClatchy's vice president for news and Washington editor.
Here are the judges' comments and internet links, where available, to the winning entries:
"Violation of Trust"
Beth Hundsdorfer, George Pawlaczyk, reporters; Zia Nizami, photographer
Many rapes go unprosecuted because the victims don't go to the police. But what happens when they do? Through intensive reporting and data analysis, reporters Beth Hundsdorfer and George Pawlaczyk discovered that 70 percent of sex crimes in southern Illinois never got as far as a courtroom. In a disturbing and powerful series full of surprising revelations, they told the human stories behind those numbers, giving voice to the victims that police and prosecutors ignored.
(Biloxi) Sun Herald and McClatchy Video Team
"Katrina + 10"
The Sun Herald's coverage of the 10th anniversary of the hurricane was far more than a look back at the storm that changed the face of the region. It was a sweeping review of what makes this region what it is and how residents survived a life-changing event. The small Biloxi staff created a massive report in print and online, developed a special app to tell the story, teamed with the company's video staff and memorialized an event every bit equal to this anniversary. "This showed enormous commitment to their community and modeled what a modern newsroom can accomplish when it sets its heart to it,'' the judges said.
"Breaking the Gender Barrier at Army Ranger School"
When the Army opened its legendary Ranger School to women, many news organizations saw a big national story. Reporter Chuck Williams saw a local one. Williams methodically built relationships among Army Rangers at nearby Fort Benning and with Columbus residents who had befriended the first women to vie for the Ranger tab. The result: a powerful series of stories that took readers deep inside the Ranger training and explored the complex social and military issues surrounding the women who would ultimately emerge triumphant.
The (Hilton Head) Island Packet
Sarah Bowman, Dan Burley, Kelly Davis, Theophil Syslo
Everyone knew there were a lot of traffic accidents along I-95 in Jasper County. But when journalists at the Island Packet started digging, they discovered why: Trees had been allowed to grow too close to the highway, and motorists were dying when their cars smashed into them. Through wrenching personal stories and crusading editorials, the Island Packet demanded action from government officials -- and they got it. "This is pure enterprise journalism -- it's not on any beat, and it's nothing you're going to discover by going to a meeting," the judges said. "But this is journalism that is going to save lives."
The Kansas City Star
"Year of the Royals"
At first glance, the Star's coverage of the Royals' World Series run looks like a newsroom riding the waves of a big, joyous story. But it was much more than that. Before pitchers and catchers even arrived for spring training, the Star's journalists decided to use the 2015 baseball season as a digital laboratory. They created the True Blue app, they launched a Royals blog, they dove into aggregation, podcasts, and social media. Along the way, they produced beautiful writing, gorgeous photography and coverage that drew them ever closer to the community they serve. And the community responded: In just a year, the Star's Royals audience grew by 80 percent.
The Kansas City Star
"The Wolves of Jefferson City"
Jason Hancock, Dave Helling, Mara Williams, Steve Kraske, Scott Canon
Beginning with a screenshot of what looked like text messages between an intern and the House Speaker, The Star's political team pulled the string on this story until it unraveled a web of deceit and abuse that reached to the top of the state's political leadership. They kept working on the story even after the Speaker at the center of the scandal resigned. They uncovered evidence of a history of mistreatment of interns -- discoveries that are now reshaping the culture of the Legislature. "This was a very difficult story – with huge implications in the statehouse – and the Star delivered important revelations that are going to bring vital change to the state," the judges said.
"License to Launder"
Michael Sallah, author/team lead, Antonio Delgado, Emily Michot, Sohail al-Jamea
Local cops pose as money launderers, fly around the country to pick up drug cash, then skim off millions for themselves before handing the rest back to the very drug dealers they should be arresting. It sounds like a crazy Florida crime novel, but it happens to be true. Miami Herald reporter Michael Sallah uncovered the story with the support of videographer Emily Michot, El Nuevo Herald's Antonio Maria Delgado and McClatchy's Sohail al-Jamea -- setting off a wave of investigations into one of the most corrupt sting operations in the nation.
The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News
When a monstrous storm drenched South Carolina this fall, the entire staff of the Sun News used every tool available to tell the story at the same time as they helped protect and inform readers facing the loss of their homes and potentially their lives. They served the community with social media, text alerts, digital posts, photos and videos and then wrapped developments up each day with the print edition. They told countless stories of bravery, fear and wild emotions. With the help of McClatchy's video staffers, they brought the struggles to life and helped guide a community back to health. "This was some of the most impressive breaking news coverage we've seen this year,'' the judges said.
(Miami) El Nuevo Herald
No story is more important in South Florida these days than what's happening inside Venezuela as it struggles with a troubled economy, widespread corruption and an uncertain future in the post-Chavez era. Antonio Maria Delgado has emerged as a singular voice on this beat, working from afar against very difficult barriers, and he reports on the country ahead of competitors. His work has made El Nuevo Herald an authority on Venezuela, drives huge amounts of traffic and breaks key stories regularly.
The (Raleigh) News & Observer
On Feb. 9, reporter Joseph Neff broke the story of questionable spending by North Carolina State Employees Association chief Dana Cope -- charges that both Cope and the association vigorously denied. Within a day, the local district attorney had launched an investigation. Within two days, Cope had resigned. And by November, Cope was headed to prison -- all because the News & Observer didn't give up on a story that everyone involved denied. The judges hailed Neff's work as "true accountability journalism -- classic shoe-leather reporting delivered in a sparse but powerful 'just the facts, ma'am' style."
The Sacramento Bee
"Homeless in Sacramento: A Death on the Streets"
Genny was a fixture in Sacramento -- a homeless woman everyone knew, or thought they did. When she was found dead on the streets, reporter Cynthia Hubert decided it was time to learn more. In a beautifully written work of long-form journalism, Hubert told the complicated, aggravating and deeply nuanced story of Genevieve Lucchesi -- and in the process gave The Bee's readers more insights into the causes and reality of homelessness than any stack of statistics ever could.
McClatchy Washington Bureau, Belleville News-Democrat, (Boise) Idaho Statesman, The (Columbia) State, (Fort Worth) Star-Telegram, The Kansas City Star, Tri-City Herald, McClatchy video team
An exhaustive reporting project that spanned 10 states and was built on hundreds of thousands of records, this series delivered a startling, untold story about the nation's history – and its likely future. Working together with newsrooms across the country and our video team, the Washington bureau staff calculated the huge human toll that came in the wake of the nuclear armament. "The digging on this story was breathtaking,'' the judges said, "and the story that came out of this work was equally powerful.''
The McClatchy Company is a leading news and information provider, offering a wide array of print and digital products in each of the markets it serves. As the third largest newspaper company in the country, McClatchy's operations include 29 daily newspapers, community newspapers, websites, mobile news and advertising, niche publications, direct marketing and direct mail services. The company's largest newspapers include The Miami Herald, The Sacramento Bee, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Kansas City Star, The Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. McClatchy is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol MNI.
SOURCE The McClatchy Company