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2014 White house correspondents' Association℠ JOURNALISM AWARDS

APRIL 7, 2014 The White House Correspondents' Association today announces the winners of its journalism awards. The awards will be presented at the annual dinner of the association on Saturday, May 3.

The judges chose two winners this year for Aldo Beckman Memorial Award, which recognizes repeated excellence in White House coverage. They are Glenn Thrush of Politico and Brianna Keilar of CNN.

The judges of the Merriman Smith Memorial Award, which recognizes deadline work in both print and broadcast, honored Peter Baker of the New York Times and Peter Maer of CBS.

And the judges of the Edgar A. Poe Award, which recognizes coverage of news of national or regional significance, chose two winners. They are Megan Twohey and a team at Reuters, and a joint work by The Center for Public Integrity in partnership with ABC News. An Honorable mention goes to The Seattle Times and reporter Craig Welch and photographer Steve Ringman.


THE ALDO BECKMAN MEMORIAL AWARD

The award this year is given equally to two entries, Glenn Thrush of Politico and Brianna Keilar of CNN.

From the judges:

Glenn Thrush's "Locked in the Cabinet" is an incisive piece of journalism that prompts some remarkable and candid admissions from Obama confidantes and takes us deep inside the process to better understand how Obama governs and manages. It is brilliantly written and utterly compelling. Thrush's description of the administration's "lurching, improvisational character" sheds light on both the process and the problems this administration has confronted. It even gives us a history lesson of the origins of the political term "cabinet." This is a powerful and well-constructed piece of narrative journalism that provides information interpretation and perspective.

Brianna Keilar's excellent, detailed and utterly approachable reporting sheds light on many of the specifics that have led to the political debacle of the affordable care act. Several stories revolve around information or documents obtained exclusively by CNN. The material is presented with compelling clarity, vivid production values and rock-solid documentation. These stories provide a vital narrative and understanding as they unfold over time. In every way––reporting, writing, presentation and production––these stories contribute context and understanding and demonstrate both breaking news and enterprise excellence.

THE MERRIMAN SMITH MEMORIAL AWARD
The award is given in a print and broadcast category

From the judges:

Print: Peter Baker, The New York Times
"Obama Seeks Approval by Congress for Strike in Syria"
Aug. 31, 2013
Peter Baker's breaking coverage of the White House's sudden shift on what was expected to be a day of military strikes against Syria was, in the words of one judge, "well-reported, insightful, informative, thorough and all done under deadline pressure." As the story continued to shift under his feet, Baker drew on his wealth of sources to deliver comprehensive coverage that managed to deliver historical context along with up-to-the-minute developments and political reaction to the news. The depth of that reporting resulted in a story that took readers from White House inner circles to Capitol Hill and beyond, and gave them historical context as well as a look at what might happen next. It is an outstanding piece of deadline work.

Broadcast: Peter Maer, CBS News
"Sequestration"
Feb. 26, 2013
Peter Maer's story on the potential impact of budget sequestration did what White House reporters too rarely do: It humanized a national political story, and managed to do so on an extremely tight deadline, no less. Maer's initiative took what could have been tossed off as just another speech story and instead put a complex issue in context, through his use of distinctive new voices and his own background knowledge of the story. He gives listeners a piece that is concise without shortchanging any of the issues or emotions. Richly detailed, good storytelling all around on an important breaking news story.

EDGAR A. POE AWARD
The award is given equally to two entries: Megan Twohey of Reuters and The Center for Public Integrity in partnership with ABC News.

From the judges:

"The Child Exchange: Inside America's Underground Market for Adopted Children," by Megan Twohey
This chilling and thoroughly reported project raised awareness of a significant problem that most Americans had never heard of before: adoptions gone awry, and the fallout from what happens to the children afterward. The team broke new ground, creating databases and mining social media bulletin boards to show how adopted children--often from overseas--can be handed off to strangers with little if any government oversight or regulation, often with tragic consequences. For unveiling the dark side of the informal and damaging practice known as "private re-homing," Megan Twohey and the team at Reuters share the Poe award.

"Breathless and Burdened: Dying from black lung, buried by law and medicine," The Center for Public Integrity, in partnership with ABC News.
This team showed how a true collaboration between media partners can break significant new ground on an already well-reported story, in this case the destructiveness of coal mining and the "black lung" that miners have suffered from for many decades. In their yearlong investigation, CPI's Chris Hamby and ABC's Matthew Mosk and Brian Ross examined how big-name doctors and lawyers, working at the behest of the coal industry, have helped defeat the benefits claims of miners sick and dying of black lung. And they showed how this was occurring even as disease rates are on the rise and an increasing number of miners are turning to a system that was supposed to help them.

Honorable Mention:
The Seattle Times and reporter Craig Welch and photographer Steve Ringman.
This pair spent months, traveling from Alaska in the North Pacific to Papua New Guinea in the South Pacific to detail what is at stake as ocean chemistry changes. They examined hundreds of peer-reviewed studies, interviewed 150 people around the world and even learned to deep-sea dive to document how the world's oceans are essentially being poisoned, and the risks that poses to marine sea life and the entire global eco-system.


Judges for the Aldo Beckman:
Ellen Shearer, Medill News Service in DC
Frank Sesno, School of Media and Public Affairs, The George Washington University
Indira Somani, Assistant Professor, Howard University

Judges for the Merriman Smith:
Steve Crane, Cronkite News Service, Arizona State University in DC
Amos Gelb, Medill News Service, Northwestern in DC
Barbara Cochran, University of Missouri in DC

Judges for the Edgar A. Poe:
Tom Diemer, Medill News Service, Washington, DC
A'Lelia Bundles, Foundation for the National Archives, DC
Josh Meyer, Medill News Service, Northwestern, DC
Amy Eisman, American University, DC

MARCH 25, 2014 - WHCA STATEMENT
It is outrageous that the Saudi government has refused to allow a White House reporter entry to the country to cover this week’s visit of President Barack Obama.

Michael Wilner, who covers the White House for the Jerusalem Post, had signed up to cover the visit and sought a visa along with the rest of the White House Press corps.

On Monday, he was the only one denied a visa. He had planned to travel straight to Saudi Arabia to cover that part of the president’s trip.

The denial is an affront not only to this journalist, but to the entire White House press corps and to the principle of freedom of the press that we hold so dear.

The White House also protested the denial.

"We are deeply disappointed that this credible journalist was denied a visa,” said Bernadette Meehan, a spokesperson for the National Security Council. “We will continue to register our serious concerns about this unfortunate decision."
The Post reported that the Saudi government refused entry to Wilner, “despite firmly-worded requests from US National Security Advisor Susan Rice and assistant to the president Tony Blinken to Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the US, Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir….

"Rice and Blinken separately expressed extreme displeasure at the delay and the prospect of a denial, The Jerusalem Posthas learned. Members of the National Security Council were made aware of the matter after US officials coordinating the trip failed to reach their Saudi counterparts.”

Wilner is an associate member of the White House Correspondents’ Association, which represents the White House press corps.

-- Steve Thomma and the board of the WHCA

MARCH, 2014 - WHCA CENTENNIAL - THE EARLY YEARS

wilson

In 1913 , President Wilson threatened to do away with presidential news conferences after complaining that “certain evening newspapers” quoted remarks he considered off the record.

A band of White House correspondents got together, agreed on a code of professional conduct and convinced the president to relent – for the time being, anyway.

Six months later, in January 1914, there was another flap over coverage of a Wilson press conference. This time, the regulars in the press corps responded by forming a group they called the White House Correspondents’ Association. The original mission was to keep Wilson from ending his press conferences. In the 100 years since that founding in February of 1914, the group has expanded its mission to pushing for broader access to the White House and supporting vigorous reporting on the presidency. READ MORE ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE WHCA

february 25, 2014 -WHCA CENTENNIAL PROGRAM AT DECATUR HOUSE
WHCA-WHHA centennial program
This program was recorded by C-SPAN. We will post a reminder when the broadcast date is announced.

VIEW SLIDESHOW of the Decatur House reception, program, and panel discussion. Images will open in a new window or tab,depending on your browser's settings. Photos by Matthew Paul D'Agostino/WHHA.

slideshow

2014 WHCA DINNER NEWS

WASHINGTON - The White House Correspondents' Association is pleased to announce that Joel McHale, star of the
NBC series Community, will be the entertainer at the association's Centennial dinner on Saturday, May 3, 2014.
"We’re thrilled that Joel will headline the dinner when we celebrate our centennial," said WHCA President Steven Thomma. " He's sharp, funny, and just the type of comic who can navigate the unique challenge of our dinner, making fun of Democrats, Republicans and especially the news media.  Washington can use a little good-natured ribbing."

McHale is a star of the NBC series Community, now in its 5th season. He also satirizes pop culture and current events as the host of E!’s The Soup. He’s appeared in movies as well, and recently finished work on the forthcoming thriller Deliver Us From Evil produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.

Founded in 1914 to represent the White House press corps, the association marks its centennial this year. It works to maintain independent news media coverage of the president, advocating for access, handling logistics for pools of reporters who stay close to the president and those who travel with him, and providing scholarships to journalism students.

The annual dinner is traditionally attended by the President and First Lady as well as many other senior government officials and members of the press corps. Proceeds from the dinner go toward scholarships for aspiring journalists and awards recognizing excellence in the profession. 

mcHale
photo/Frank Ockenfels

THE WHCA IS TURNING 100

This year, the White House Correspondents' Association marks the 100th anniversary of its 1914 founding to advocate for reporters on that historic assignment. The group has grown and expanded its activities, in 1920 launching a spring dinner that now merits news coverage along with a yearly appearance by the sitting president.

The journalists of today's WHCA share the spirit of those early forerunners, pushing for access to the president and members of the administration amid the challenges of a modern media landscape.

As the association marks its anniversary this year, veteran White House reporters, political journalists and scholars will chart the story of that evolving group of professionals in a series of blog posts on this website. The year-long series is being produced in cooperation with the White House Historical Association.

As we begin to celebrate this milestone, we are looking for anecdotes, pictures or memorabilia from past dinners and past Association events. If you have something you'd like to share, please let us know.

Read about the 100 YEAR HISTORY OF THE WHCA

WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS' ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES 2014 AWARDS
January 9, 2014

The White House Correspondents' Association is presenting three major journalism awards at the annual dinner on May 3, 2014 to recognize distinguished reporting.  The awards are among the most prestigious in our field.  Prizes range from $1,000 to $2,500.

You are encouraged to review your 2013 reporting and consider entering the competition.  The three contests are open to print and broadcast journalists.

The WHCA board has enlisted the Medill School of Journalism and Ellen Shearer, co-director of the Medill News Service here in Washington, D.C., to help coordinate the judging of the three contests.

The Merriman Smith Award ($2,500) recognizes presidential news coverage under deadline pressure, with separate awards for print and broadcast journalists. Broadcast tapes (DVD) also may be submitted with scripts.

The Aldo Beckman ($1,000) recognizes repeated excellence in White House coverage, with a single award for either a print or broadcast journalist.  Entries may be in the form of clippings, original material, wire copy printouts, photocopies or broadcast scripts.  Online entries must be original Web content. Broadcast tapes (DVD) also may be submitted with scripts.

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 copy printouts, photocopies or online entries.  Broadcast tapes (DVD) also may be submitted.  Online entries must be original Web content. 

The deadline for entries is March 5, 2014.

If you have any questions, please contact: Ellen Shearer of Medill News Service, Chair of the WHCA Awards Committee, at 202-661-0102 or E-mail: shearer@northwestern.edu or Julia Whiston of the WHCA at 202-266-7453 or or E-mail via this contact form.

We will send members a separate mailing later to provide details about the upcoming dinner.


STATEMENT FROM THE WHCA BOARD
November 21, 2013

The White House Correspondents' Association today joins dozens of news associations and media outlets in protesting White House policies that ban photojournalists from covering the president at certain events while releasing government photos and videos of the same events.

"Journalists are routinely being denied the right to photograph or videotape the President while he is performing his official duties," the WHCA and other news organizations said in a letter Thursday to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

"As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist’s camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the Executive Branch of government."

The letter, also signed by such groups as the American Society of News Editors, the Associated Press Media Editors and the White House News Photographers Association as well as individual media outlets, notes that the White House has argued that certain events with the president are private and should not be opened to the news media.
However, in instance after instance, the White House has proved that claim false by allowing its own photographers and videographers into the same events and then releasing those photos or videos to a nationwide audience.

"You are, in effect, replacing independent photojournalism with visual press releases," the groups said in the letter.
The practice is a troubling break from tradition, and belies the president's vow to be more transparent."The right of journalists to gather the news is most critical when covering government officials acting in their official capacities," the letter said.

"Previous administrations have recognized this, and have granted press access to visually cover precisely these types of events, thus creating government transparency. It is clear that the restrictions imposed by your office on photographers undercuts the President's stated desire to continue and broaden that tradition.  To exclude the press from these functions is a major break from how previous administrations have worked with the press."

The groups asked for a meeting to make the case face to face for a change in policy.

The White House Correspondents' Association represents the White House press corps. It will mark its 100th year next year.

--The board of the WHCA

For more information, contact WHCA President Steven Thomma at 202-383-6042 or sthomma@mcclatchydc.com


In Memoriam: SARA FRITZ

Sara Fritz

An overflow crowd of hundreds packed the Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church in Washington on Tuesday (Nov. 19) to remember and celebrate the life of Sara Fritz, a former WHCA president (1985) who died on Oct. 16, 2013.

The turnout was an astonishing manifestation of the depth and breathe of the admiration, respect and affection Sara commanded well beyond the clubby world of Washington journalism.

Below is a sampling of obituaries about Sara. As well, her family published, and distributed at her memorial service, a 20-day compendium of tributes written by friends, family and colleagues. Electronic copies are available by request.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/journalist-sara-fritz-dies-at-68/2013/10/17/5535463e-3743-11e3-80c6-7e6dd8d22d8f_story.html

http://www.post-gazette.com/obituaries/2013/10/19/Obituary-Sara-Fritz-Pioneering-female-journalist-worked-for-Pittsburgh-Press/stories/201310190211

http://www.latimes.com/obituaries/la-me-sara-fritz-20131018,0,5137041.story#axzz2l8CNeJdk

http://youthtoday.org/view_article.cfm?article_id=6295

http://www.rcfp.org/reporters-committee-remembers-sara-fritz

-- Ed Chen, President, WHCA, 2009-2010

2013 AWARDS RECIPIENTS

April 2, 2013

WASHINGTON--Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker is this year's winner of the White House Correspondents Association award for journalistic excellence in covering the presidency.

Julie Pace of the Associated Press and Terry Moran of ABC have won the association's awards for White House news coverage under deadline pressure, and the Center for Public Integrity is recognized for its coverage of issues of national importance.

The annual WHCA prizes honor outstanding performance by White House correspondents and other national journalists each year. The prizes and their cash awards will be given out at the association's annual dinner on Saturday, April 27.

Selected by a panel of judges organized by the Medill School of Journalism, the winning candidates this year demonstrated excellence under deadline pressure and in the kind of in-depth reporting at risk in an era of media cost-cutting.

"One of our central missions continues to be holding government officials accountable," WHCA President Ed Henry said. “I’m thrilled that all of these terrific journalists will be honored at our dinner this month.”

In awarding the Aldo Beckman Award to Lizza, the panel of judges noted his "remarkable efforts to provide an independent perspective" on President Obama's presidency and re-election.

"Deep reporting, both through documents and personal interviews, moves these stories beyond the cacophony of a campaign year," the judges said. Besides being an excellent reporter, they said, Lizza is "a thoughtful, cogent writer. He has a keen ability to take his readers inside decisions and weave a compelling narrative, something he has done for more than a decade covering the White House."

The Beckman award is named for the award-winning Chicago Tribune correspondent and former WHCA president. Funded by the Tribune, the award has a cash prize of $1,000.

The Merriman Smith Award for a print journalist goes to Pace, who was recently named to lead the AP White House team. The judges noted her next-day story reporting Obama’s reelection, saying that it "provided  a detailed, nuanced explanation of how the Obama campaign had mobilized a sophisticated get-out-the- vote offensive to create a winning strategy that surprised many analysts in its scope."

"Writing from the press bus and buttonholing Obama campaign operatives who were already celebrating, she produced a nicely paced, engaging narrative that provided the first-blush analysis of campaign 2012," they wrote.

Moran is the broadcast winner of the Smith award for his coverage of the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act.

Moran "calmly guided viewers through the complexity, contradictions and nuance of the ruling while explaining what it means for the president and his political fortunes," the awards panel wrote of his work.

The Merriman Smith fund was set up in 1970 to honor United Press International's correspondent at the White House for more than 30 years. The winners will each receive a cash prize of $2,500.

The winner of the Edgar A. Poe Award is the depth reporting series "Hard Labor," by CPI reporters Jim Morris, Chris Hamby and Ronnie Greene.

As the judges put it, the series "compellingly shows how the government has failed to keep its promise to protect workers from injury and death on the job."

"Drawing on years of data and on-the-ground reporting in eight states and Canada, the authors demonstrate how corporate corner-cutting, government inability or unwillingness to impose meaningful penalties, and bureaucratic pressure to make caseload quotas have stymied real regulation," the judges wrote. "They tell the workers' stories in a manner that evokes Studs Terkel, excellently weaving human interest with deep-data scrutiny and using numbers sparingly but with powerful effect."

The Poe award was set up to honor coverage of national or regional significance. The prize of $2,500 is funded by the New Orleans Times-Picayune and Newhouse Newspapers in honor of their distinguished correspondent, who also served as a WHCA president.

The selections process was supervised by Ellen Shearer, William F. Thomas Professor of Journalism at Northwestern University's Medill school.

READ MORE: PRIOR NEWS ENTRIES

 

President and Mrs. Obama walking down Pennsylvania Avenue during the 2009 inaugural parade. Photo: Doug Mills, New York Times.

WHCA℠ OFFICERS 2013-2014

President: Steven Thomma, McClatchy Newspapers

Vice President: Christi Parsons, Tribune Company

Secretary: April Ryan, American Urban Radio Network

Treasurer:
Doug Mills, New York Times

WHCA℠ Board Members 2013-2014

Carol Lee, Wall Street Journal, at large (7/15/16)

Scott Horsley, NPR, radio (
7/15/15)

Margaret Talev, Bloomberg News, wire

Major Garrett, CBS News, television        

Olivier Knox, Yahoo! News, periodicals

Executive Director

Julia Whiston

NEWS BLOGS AND LINKS

Several White House Correspondents' Association℠ members regularly blog about presidential coverage, delivering some of the most colorful White House stories anywhere. Here are links to a few of the most popular White House press corps blogs.

Mike Allen, Politico Playbook
http://dyn.politico.com/playbook/

Mike Allen, Politico Playbook


Mark Silva, Chicago Tribune
http://blogs.trb.com/news/politics/blog/

Mark Silva, Chicago Tribune, The Swamp


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