All the finalists in the "Newspapers: Local Circulation Weeklies" category were AAN members, but Todd Spivak came out on top for "Run Over By Metro." The prestigious awards, given by Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc., recognize the most outstanding watchdog journalism of the year. Judges said Spivak's "compelling and vivid narrative writing gives extraordinary power to the victims' stories and fuels the outrage over the agency's misconduct." The other finalists were Sarah Fenske of Phoenix New Times (for "Cracked Houses"), Dan Frosch of the Santa Fe Reporter (for "The Wexford Files"), and Matthew Fleischer of LA Weekly (for "Navahoax").
Writing in this month's CJR, Gloria Cooper gives kudos to the alt-weekly for its "long-running series on the state of the health care system in New Mexico" that led to the termination of Wexford Health Sources' contract with the New Mexico Department of Corrections. The Reporter's series highlighted repeated abuses and systemic failures by the for-profit company formerly in charge of inmate care.
Citing the alt-weekly's five-month investigative series into repeated abuses and systemic failures on the part of Wexford Health Services, Governor Bill Richardson has ordered a termination of the company's $27 million contract to provide medical care within New Mexico's prison system. Richardson's spokesperson confirms the decision to axe Wexford was made based on the Reporter series. "They're done," spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos told the weekly. "We expect to have a new provider in a reasonable amount of time."
SFR landed three first-place awards in the most recent contest of the New Mexico Press Association. Staff writer Nathan Dinsdale was recognized for news writing and feature writing, while staff writer Dan Frosch placed first in investigative reporting.
The latest in a series of investigative articles by the Santa Fe Reporter reveals that a state corrections committee has requested an independent audit of health care in New Mexico's state's prisons. The audit will focus on Wexford Health Sources, the private contractor that an Aug. 9 SFR article reported cut costs by cutting care. The paper later reported that deplorable conditions in the state's prisons had caused health care providers there to fall under the scrutiny of legislators and the American Civil Liberties Union. State Rep. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, cited another SFR story in which one of Wexford's own employees decried treatment of inmates as inhumane. “That’s pretty darn scary to me,” Wirth said of the allegation.
Robert Wilder, who writes the column "Daddy Needs a Drink" for the Reporter, is the guest columnist for the "My Turn" feature in the current issue of Newsweek. Wilder's subject is his own father, whom he contacts each Mother's Day to "let him know how much I appreciate all the ways he tried to be both the hand that rocked the cradle and the one that held a hammer."
Robert Wilder pens a regular column titled "Daddy Needs a Drink" for the Reporter; now he's published a book by the same name that is "a funny look at Wilder’s life with his wife, artist Lala Carroll, and their two children, Poppy and London," according to the weekly. The TV rights have already been sold for adaption into a potential sitcom. The Reporter promoted its own last week with a cover story and a two-chapter excerpt from the book.
Staff Reporter Nathan Dinsdale is a finalist in the Religion Newswriters Association contest for his profile of Fred Phelps, leader of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church. Dinsdale is one of 10 finalists in the Templeton Story division, which "honors the best single story or serialized story about religion, religious movements or religious figures and their effect on American life," according to the RNA Web site. Winners will be announced Sept. 9 at the RNA's annual conference.