- Associated Press - Sunday, February 16, 2014
Reporting based on NSA leaks wins Polk Award

NEW YORK (AP) - Four journalists who reported on the extent of the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden are among the winners of the 65th annual George Polk Awards in Journalism.

Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill and Laura Poitras of The Guardian and Barton Gellman of The Washington Post will receive the award for national security reporting for stories based on secret documents leaked by Snowden, a former intelligence analyst.

The awards were announced Sunday by Long Island University.

Journalists who wrote about massive traffic jams caused by bridge lane closures in New Jersey, a catastrophic garment factory collapse in Bangladesh and the struggles of a homeless family in Brooklyn also will be among those honored.

The Polk Awards were created in 1949 in honor of CBS reporter George W. Polk, who was killed while covering the Greek civil war. This year’s awards will be given out April 11. Kimberly Dozier of The Associated Press will read the citations at the ceremony.

James Yardley of The New York Times will be honored for foreign reporting for coverage of the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh, which killed more than 1,100 clothing workers.

The award for national reporting will go to Eli Saslow of The Washington Post for stories about some of the 47 million Americans who receive aid from the federal food stamp program.

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Wis. bill breathes new life into cemetery debate

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - When Kevin Pagenkopf’s son told his first-grade teacher what he wants to be when he grows up, she didn’t expect him to say funeral director.

Pagenkopf said he hopes his 7-year-old son will be able to take over the family’s 101-year-old Oconomowoc funeral home, but the business’ future could be in jeopardy if the state changes its laws to allow competition from cemeteries.

Wisconsin is one of nine states that prohibit cemeteries from owning funeral homes. A bill under consideration in the Legislature would scrap that decades-old law and allow cemeteries and funeral homes to be operated together. Those working against the bill say it’s a bad idea because it would open the way for some big players to move into the state and drive down costs, only to hike them later. But supporters argue deregulating the funeral industry would let an open market determine fair prices.

State and national funeral home associations representing more than 400 directors in Wisconsin oppose the bill, far outnumbering supporters. There are only a small handful of commercial cemeteries in Wisconsin.

“There’s not that many family owned funeral homes (anymore), when 100 years ago, that’s pretty much all you had,” Pagenkopf said. He added, “The track record with these companies that come in, sure they’re cheaper to begin with, but as soon as we fail and go out of business or sell out, that’s when their prices go back up.”

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