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Herbert Block Freedom Award

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News from The Newspaper Guild-CWA

The Union for the Information Age

For Immediate Release

March 19, 2007

For More Information

Jeff Miller or Candice Johnson

CWA Communications, 202-434-1168

jmiller@cwa-union.org and cjohnson@cwa-union.org

Hartford Courant Reporters Win Top Honor

in 2006 TNG-CWA Broun Awards

 

Washington, D.C. – Lisa Chedekel and Matthew Kauffman

have been awarded the 2006 Heywood Broun Award for

their series of stories investigating the U.S.

government’s ongoing deployment to Iraq of soldiers

who suffer pre-existing mental illness and other

psychological conditions.

 

In their major investigatory series, “Mentally Unfit,

Forced to Fight,” the two Hartford Courant reporters

revealed that senior military officials have sent

troops into combat, despite clear evidence of bipolar

disorder, depression, suicidal episodes and Post

Traumatic Stress Trauma.

 

Their reporting also uncovered the fact that, in spite

of federal requirements that military recruits undergo

mental health screening, fewer than 1 in 300 sees a

mental health professional before being deployed.

Treatment of soldiers in the field is even worse, the

reporters found, as many soldiers who seek relief from

combat stress are simply given anti-depressants and

sent back to their duties. The Courant series also

spotlighted Army reports showing that senior officers

knowingly disregarded the suicidal propensities of

several soldiers.

 

The judges said the series also demonstrated another

element of the Broun legacy: “In publicizing the

little-known plight of mentally ill soldiers, the

paper helped prompt new legislation addressing the

flaws in the military’s mental health system.”

Heywood Broun was the most prominent founder of the

American Newspaper Guild in 1934, a crusading

columnist who believed individual journalists have the

power to cause social change.

 

The Broun award is named for the union’s founder and

first president, and includes a plaque and $5,000 cash

prize. It is awarded annually by The Newspaper

Guild-CWA and will be presented this year on May 3 at

the union’s Freedom Award Fund dinner in Washington,

D.C. The keynote speaker at this year’s event will be

Newsweek senior editor and columnist and NBC Network

contributor Jonathan Alter.

 

The Herbert Block Freedom Award, also with a $5,000

prize, will be awarded to Josh Wolf, a San Francisco

freelance journalist who has been held in federal

prison since August 2006 for refusing to turn over

video he shot of a July 8, 2005, demonstration in San

Francisco.

 

Federal prosecutors looking into possible crimes

committed during the protest called Wolf before a

federal grand jury in February 2006. He was initially

jailed in August, freed for a short period during an

appeal and was returned to prison on Sept. 22, 2006,

where he remains. His attorney has stated that the

video Wolf shot does not depict the crimes being

investigated, but does include interviews with some of

the protestors who spoke on the condition that their

identities would be protected. Wolf continues to

appeal the ruling.

 

Debbie Cenziper of the Miami Herald received the Broun

award for substantial distinction for her reporting in

the series, “House of Lies,” an investigation that

uncovered corruption at one of the nation’s largest

housing authorities – the Miami-Dade Housing Agency.

She will receive a $1,000 prize.

 

In the broadcast division, Lorrie Taylor of WJW-TV in

Cleveland was recognized for “Disappearing Homes,” a

story about a predatory real estate company. She also

will receive a $1,000 prize.

 

The award winners were selected from entries from

across the United States and Canada.

 

This year's Broun judges were Deborah Howell,

ombudswoman for the Washington Post; Tom Kunkel, dean

of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the

University of Maryland; Chris Lehmann, senior editor

at CQ Weekly; and Jack Nelson, retired Washington

bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times. The judging

panel was chaired by Dick Peery, the longtime

president of the Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild who

retired last year after 35 years with the Cleveland

Plain Dealer.

 

The David S. Barr award also will be presented at the

May 3 event, recognizing a college and high school

student for achievements in journalism, with

scholarship awards of $1,500 and $500, respectively.

 

Kendyl R. Salcito of the University of British

Columbia won for her article, “War Brewing Over

Mineral Rights in Rural BC,” a report on a

controversial government program that allows mineral

staking on private property. In the high school

division, Elizabeth Curry Andrews of Henry W. Grady

High School in Atlanta won for her story, “Fulton

County Blues,” which exposed the overcrowding and

unsanitary conditions at the courthouse jail in Fulton

County.

 

The Broun award was first presented for work done in

1941 and is given annually in recognition of

“individual journalistic achievement by members of the

working media, particularly if it helps right a wrong

or correct an injustice.”

 

###

 

The Newspaper Guild-CWA represents 35,000 journalists

and newspaper workers in the U.S., Canada and Puerto

Rico. The Communications Workers of America

represents more than 700,000 workers in media and

information technology, telecommunications, printing

and publishing, public employment, health care, higher

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