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Times wins SPJ award for Virginia quake coverage

Paper also wins in sports, features and criticism categories

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A team of reporters and editors for The Washington Times won first place in the spot news category of the Society of Professional Journalists' annual Dateline Awards for its coverage of the August earthquake in Virginia.

The paper also captured three other first-place awards in the local D.C. chapter's competition.

The Times also had six finalists in the Daily Newspapers category. The awards were presented Tuesday night at the National Press Club.

In the spot news category, the staff won for "Earthquake Jolts East Coast." The judges wrote that it was "excellent deadline coverage ... and its impact on the D.C. Area. Readers were told what happened and why, what would happen next and what it all meant. Solid reporting."

"We're pleased and grateful for the recognition of our work across a variety of categories. Journalists at The Washington Times try hard every day to deliver news and information that our audiences — print and digital — can't get anywhere else," Times Executive Editor Ed Kelley said.

The team of reporters and editors included Dave Boyer, Stephen Dinan, David Eldridge, Jennifer Harper, David Hill, Thomas Howell Jr., Victor Morton, Meredith Somers and Shaun Waterman.

Stephen Whyno won the daily newspapers sports award for "Capital Depreciation," a hard-hitting look at the declining performance of Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin early in the season using statistics and interviews with players and coaches around the NHL.

"Extensively and fairly reported," judges wrote.

"The piece showed the work ethic that makes Stephen a strong reporter," Times sports editor Mike Harris said. "He never passes on a chance to interview someone, and the result was an excellent story that used his own reporting from across the NHL. Stephen is always prepared and looking ahead. It really paid off here."

In the daily newspaper features category, Patrick Hruby won for "Big Hollywood," which chronicled the use of steroids and human growth hormones by action stars and other actors looking to make their mark on the big and small screens, and its impact on society.

"Thought-provoking, factual and thorough," the judges wrote.

William Gavin won the award in the arts criticism category for his book review titled "Recalling Unjustly Neglected Star (Hi-De-Ho: The Life Of Cab Calloway)."

"Gavin provides a strong opening and closing, keeping his focus clearly on the biography — exactly how it should be,"the judges wrote.

The Times finalists were as follows:

• Insports, Patrick Hruby for "Lady In Charge," a feature on the fledgling career of one of the first female high school football coaches in the nation, Natalie Randolph of D.C.'s Coolidge High School.

• In daily newspaper features, Ben Birnbaum for "Diego's Secret Just His Style." The story was about Diego D'Ambrosio, a barber in Washington's Dupont Circle neighborhood who cuts the hair of ambassadors from warring countries and congressmen from opposing parties but doesn't take sides.

• In daily general news, Jim McElhatton for "Be A Star Witness, Escape Execution." The story chronicled how Oscar Veal, a convicted contract killer for a large drug ring and murder-for-hire operation, avoided the death penalty and cut his 25-year sentence in half after cooperating with prosecutors and becoming a star witness for the government.

• Also in daily general news, Andrea Noble for "P.G. Ordinance Cracks Down on Clubs Beset by Violence."

• In arts criticism, Emily Colette Wilkinson for "Depression Cast As A Manic Dog (Mr. Chartwell)."

• Also in arts criticism, Marion Elizabeth Rodgers for "'Gatsby' Author Gets Personal (F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Short Autobiography)."

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