CANDICE MITCHELL / The Working Press
Top awards were given at the President’s Installation Banquet on Saturday night to various SPJ members running the gamut from radio reporter to veterans in the field.
Chuck Stone, founding president of the National Association of Black Journalists and a First Amendment advocate, received the Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award.
The award is named after the veteran White House correspondent and is given to individuals for a lifetime of service to journalism.
As a reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News, Stone served as a mediator between the Philadelphia police and murder suspects, dozens of whom surrendered to Stone rather than turn themselves in to the police.
John Seigenthaler Sr., founder of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., received the First Amendment award, which is given to individuals for their efforts to preserve the First Amendment.
Seigenthaler is a past president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and for 43 years was a reporter and editor for The Tennessean in Nashville. Now retired, Seigenthaler retains the title of chairman emeritus at the newspaper.
The winners of the Sunshine Award, recognized for their support of open government issues, are: The Seattle Times, the Connecticut Network and University of Florida professor Bill Chamberlin.
A two-year investigation by the Times led to more open courts in Washington state. The Connecticut Network’s statewide broadcast coverage helps citizens understand how their government works.
Chamberlin is director of the Marion Brechner Citizen Access Project, which evaluates public records in every state.
Two other awards were announced Saturday night.
The Fellows of the Society Award, the highest honor SPJ gives to journalists for their contributions to the profession, went to Muriel Dobbin, a veteran White House correspondent; Ken Paulson, editor and senior vice president for news at USA Today and USAToday.com; John Markoff, a New York Times business reporter; and former Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein.
The Howard S. Dubin Outstanding Professional Member Award went to Claudia Peschiutta, a West Coast radio reporter, for her contribution to her SPJ chapter. Peschiutta joined the board of directors for SPJ’s Greater Los Angeles chapter in 2003 and is the publicity and events chair.