Sunday, June 7, 2009

Batten Award: fitting tribute to Donna Wright

The South Florida Society of Professional Journalists recently awarded the Bradenton Herald newsroom with five top honors -- including one of three awards for distinguished public service for media statewide, as noted in my column today. News of The James Batten Award came almost simultaneously with the news that Donna Wright, longtime journalist at the Bradenton Herald, plans to retire.

From the entry rules of the contest, here are the qualifications for James Batten nominations:

Named in honor of late Knight-Ridder Chairman and CEO James Batten, a champion of “civic journalism.” Entries must contribute to the public good by correcting a wrong, bringing to light an issue or adding significantly to the public debate. Entries will be judged by the significance of the contribution, initiative in overcoming opposition and evidence of courage.

That defines the decades of Donna's commitment to our field. As she heads next month to Ohio with her dad, she leaves a legacy of civic journalism with us to cherish.

Here's a recap of our winners, and a link to the full list and SPJ's coverage:

James Batten Award for Public Service, All Size Media: Third Place
Donna Wright & Staff; Surviving the Squeeze

Non-Deadline Business Reporting: First Place
Brian Neill & Duane Marsteller; Foreclosed Dreams

Gene Miller Award for Investigative Reporting: First Place
Robert Napper, Natalie Alund & Duane Marsteller; Loophole exposed in predator law

Front-Page Design: Second Place
Brent Conklin

Deadline News Reporting: Third Place
Staff; Interstate meltdown: Inferno shuts down I-75

Congratulations, all.

-- Joan

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