Alternative newsweeklies took home a fair share of the honors last week in the First Amendment Awards competition sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists’ Fort Worth pro chapter. AAN papers won a combined three first places among eight print categories in the Texas-Oklahoma contest, which recognize journalism that promotes open government, public records, and providing a voice for the downtrodden.
Fort Worth Weekly took first place in the “Reporting on Open Government” category for a story by Jeff Prince revealing how the Dallas Cowboys, in constructing their massive new stadium in large part with taxpayer dollars, managed to turn 17 acres of a creekside wildlife preserve into a parking lot, with very little public notice. The Weekly also took first in the student category, for a story by college graduate student freelance writer (and former Weekly intern) Pablo Lastra, detailing how a whistleblower struggled and sacrificed in order to reveal corruption in the hospital supply business. The judge called Lastra’s story the “best piece of student investigative work I’ve ever encountered.”
Margaret Downing of the Houston Press took first place in the “Defending the Disadvantaged” category for her story detailing the death of a mentally ill man at the hands of a caregiver.
The Weekly placed second in that category, for Betty Brink and Jesseca Bagherpour’s story on the failures of the Fort Worth city housing department.
Chris Vogel of the Press took second place in a business news category for a story examining the circumstances of a man’s death during a self-help weekend with a clandestine organization. And the Press‘ Todd Spivak took third in the “Use of Public Records: Investigative,” for his story reporting on the effects of industrial poisons on one small town.