READ THIS YEAR'S AWARD-WINNING ENTRIES
The White House Correspondents' Association presented four major journalism awards at the annual dinner to recognize distinguished reporting. The awards are among the most prestigious in our field. The contests are open to print and broadcast journalists.
To enhance credibility through independent judging, the judging panels for the awards we administer are put together and run by Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Assistant Dean Ellen Shearer, co-director of the Northwestern University's Medill News Service in Washington, helped coordinate the judging of the following contests.
The Merriman Smith MEMORIAL Award
The Merriman Smith Memorial Award ($2,500 for each winner) recognizes presidential news coverage under deadline pressure, with separate awards for print and broadcast journalists.
Winner--print: Dan Balz, The Washington Post
Dan Balz of The Washington Post was cited by the Smith award judges for "great presidential reporting" for his coverage of the unexpected appearance of President Obama and former President Bill Clinton in the White House briefing room after a meeting in the Oval Office to discuss Democrats' massive losses in the midterm elections.
The judges declared that Balz "took a skilled look beneath the surface of two U.S. presidents, two men with an uneasy alliance, to examine their mutual need of each other at a moment in time."
The judges added that Balz's deadline writing was "informed and informative -- a rare glimpse of an aging former president whose legacy is assured and a struggling young president brought together in common political cause."
Tapper won in the broadcast category for the second year in a row, and is being honored this year for his story that revealed that Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair was about to be asked by President Obama to step down.
The judges said that "because he knew the news when the rest of the media sphere was just learning it, Tapper was able to provide details that few others could match" in a richly detailed piece on the Web followed by a full report on television.
"Tapper was clearly ahead of the pack and ABC's audience benefited from his reporting," said the judges.
The Aldo Beckman Award ($1,000) recognizes repeated excellence in White House coverage, with a single award for either a print or broadcast journalist. Entries may be made in the form of clippings, original material, wire service printouts, photocopies or broadcast scripts.
Winner: Peter Baker, The New York Times
photo (detail)/Brendan Smialowski
Peter Baker of The New York Times has won the Aldo Beckman award, which recognizes a correspondent who personifies the journalistic excellence and personal qualities of Aldo Beckman, a former president of the White House Correspondents' Association and correspondent for the Chicago Tribune.
The Tribune and the association, which established the award in 1981, will give a prize of $1,000.
Baker won for what the judges called a "remarkable run" in 2010 with dozens of stories that his employer dubbed "the education of a president."
Baker wrote more than 300 articles last year about President Obama's second year in office, including breaking news, analysis and long-form features and profiles, both in the paper and in the Times' magazine.
According to the judges, "Baker's body of work displayed a masterful combination of deeply sourced reporting, incisive analysis and, above all, deep insight about how Obama operations, from his response to the terrorist threat to his struggles to contend with what the president himself called our 'big, messy democracy.'"
(nytimes.org search results linking to numerous articles by Peter Baker )
The Edgar A. Poe Award ($2,500) recognizes excellence in coverage of news of national or regional significance, with a single award for either a print or broadcast journalist. Entries may be in the form of clippings, original material, wire service printouts, photocopies or broadcast scripts. Broadcast tapes may also be submitted with scripts.
Winner: Michael Berens of the Seattle Times
Michael Berens of The Seattle Times won the Edgar A. Poe Award that recognizes excellence in coverage of news of national or regional significance, with a single award for either a print or broadcast journalist.
A prize of $2,500 comes with the award, which was established by the New Orleans Times-Picayune and Newhouse Newspapers in honor of their distinguished correspondent Edgar A. Poe.
Berens, a repeat winner, won this time for a series that uncovered shocking flaws in a health care plan for seniors that was designed to save money and give seniors an alternative to nursing home care but that resulted in neglect, abuse and even death.
The judges were impressed by the depth of reporting and the ability to tell a highly charged story with clarity.
"Michael Berens' stories not only revealed a systemic failure in the health care system, but led to a shake-up of the agency involved, regulatory changes to improve oversight and accountability and landed some caregivers in jail," said the judges.
Honorable mention was also awarded to Greg Jaffe of The Washington Post. The judges praised Jaffe's "nuanced portrait of the impact of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars on the people fighting them. A memorable montage."
Return to the 2011 AWARDS page for additional information about the recipients and this year's ceremony. See the list at right for information about past awards.