By Christopher Snowbeck
For a second consecutive year, Minnesota Public Radio’s ongoing investigation of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis – “Betrayed by Silence” – was named Story of the Year at the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists’ Page One Awards.
Reporters from the Minneapolis Star Tribune and MinnPost earned special recognition, as well, during an awards banquet that drew more than 100 journalists to The Commons Hotel in Minneapolis on Tuesday evening.
The annual Page One Awards recognize the best in Minnesota journalism. Awards were given in more than 60 categories for newspaper reporting, online news, photography, television, radio, multimedia and several other categories.
Entries for the 2015 Page One Awards were judged by journalists from the New Jersey chapter of SPJ.
Chris Serres of the Star Tribune took home honors as Journalist of the Year for his coverage of the health care industry.
Star Tribune reporters Jeffrey Meitrodt and Mike Hughlett were recognized with the Best Use of Public Records award, for their “Risky Riding” series on safety issues for ATV riders.
MinnPost reporter Briana Bierschbach was named Young Journalist of the Year.
James Eli Shiffer of the Star Tribune received the 2014 Peter S. Popovich Award, which recognizes people or an organization that exemplifies the fight for First Amendment rights. Shiffer’s column Full Disclosure focuses on open government and the public’s right to know, putting a spotlight on government secrecy and threats to freedom of information.
In her keynote address, Pulitzer Prize winner Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times decried a war against transparency being practiced by the federal government.
Morgenson is an assistant business and financial editor, and columnist, who’s chronicled Wall Street during the age of Enron, the bursting of the housing bubble and what she described as “the near-death experience of our nation’s banking system in 2008.”
The government’s secretive ways have been on display recently, Morgenson said, in a lawsuit involving mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. She also spoke of the need for newsrooms to practice journalism that holds powerful people responsible for their actions, without regard for the sort of access that can come with fawning coverage.
“If you want to gain respect inside the journalistic community and even from those you cover, that’s far easier to do by being a tough but fair reporter than it is by being a stenographer to CEOs,” Morgenson said.
For a second consecutive year, Tom Weber of Minnesota Public Radio provided wit and wisdom as host of the awards ceremony.
During the event, MN SPJ announced scholarship awards two journalism students – Elizabeth Anderson of the University of Minnesota, and Clara Hatcher of Marquette University. Each received a $2,500 scholarship.
MN SPJ awards student scholarships each year, funded partly by generous donations from an annual silent auction that’s held during the Page One Awards banquet.
The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) is the oldest, largest and broadest-based organization of journalists in the U.S. and was founded as Sigma Delta Chi in 1909. The MN SPJ chapter was founded in 1956.
If you would like to order duplicate awards, or have any awards-related questions, please contact MN SPJ at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is the full PDF of the awards program: