- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 22, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - Rolling Stone magazine won one of journalism’s most prestigious awards for an article that prompted President Barack Obama to fire his military commander in Afghanistan. The Associated Press also won a 2010 George Polk award for its coverage of the Gulf oil spill, and the Washington Post won for its investigation on the growth of national security agencies.

Michael Hastings won the Polk Award for magazine reporting for his story that recounted how Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his staff made scornful comments about Obama administration officials. Obama removed the four-star general from his command in June, saying McChrystal’s comments undermined civilian control of the military.

“We were as surprised as everyone else how swift and immediate the reaction was,” said Rolling Stone Executive Editor Eric Bates. The article “really helped put the war back on the map.”

The AP’s staff won a Polk award for environmental reporting for its “colossal effort” covering the worst oil spill in U.S. history, said Long Island University, which oversees the awards and was announcing the winners Tuesday.

The AP was the first news organization to report that the Deepwater Horizon rig sank, leading to the 206-million-gallon spill into the Gulf of Mexico. The AP’s investigative reporters revealed gaps in oversight of 27,000 abandoned Gulf wells.

“It not only held people accountable for the initial disaster but also widened the lens to many more problems that are lurking just under the waters of the Gulf,” said Kathleen Carroll, AP’s executive editor and senior vice president.

The 2010 awards were marked by several collaborative projects among media, said John Darnton, curator for the awards.

“This kind of cooperation across electronic and print and broadcast is something that we’re going to be seeing a lot more of,” Darnton said. “It’s a way to kind of maximize the power and impact of a piece.”

The nonprofit news organization ProPublica won two Polk awards for joint projects with more traditional media. Its investigation with National Public Radio into brain injuries suffered by soldiers claimed the radio reporting award. The group also won the television reporting award for an investigation into the New Orleans Police Department that it produced with PBS’ “Frontline” and the Times-Picayune newspaper.

The New York Times tied with ProPublica for two awards, one for coverage of Russia and another for reporting in Afghanistan.

Darnton said 2010 saw in an increase in awards to metropolitan newspapers, including the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, which was honored for the third year in a row. It won in the criminal justice reporting category for an investigation into gun dealers.

The George Polk awards are given annually by Long Island University of Brookville, N.Y.

The complete list of winners:

_Magazine reporting: Michael Hastings of Rolling Stone for “The Runaway General.”

_Environmental reporting: The Associated Press for coverage of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

_Foreign reporting: Clifford J. Levy and Ellen Barry of The New York Times for coverage of Russia.

_National reporting: Dana Priest and William M. Arkin of The Washington Post for coverage of the United States’ growing security apparatus.

_Local reporting: Jeff Gottlieb, Ruben Vives and other reporters at the Los Angeles Times for coverage of financial misdeeds in the city government of Bell, Calif.

_Metropolitan reporting: Amy Brittain and Mark Mueller of The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., for a series on steroid use and fraud among police and firefighters.

_Education reporting: Dan Golden, John Hechinger and John Lauerman of Bloomberg News for a series on for-profit colleges.

_Criminal justice reporting: John Diedrich and Ben Poston of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, for an investigation into violations by gun dealers.

_Military reporting: Dexter Filkins and Mark Mazzetti of The New York Times, for coverage of fighting in Afghanistan.

_Commentary: Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez, for coverage of fraud involving New York City’s electronic payroll system.

_Radio reporting: T. Christian Miller of ProPublica and Daniel Zwerdling and Susanne Reber of National Public Radio, for an investigation into the treatment of soldiers with brain injuries.

_Television reporting: A.C. Thompson of ProPublica, Raney Aronson-Rath and Tom Jennings of PBS’ “Frontline,” and Laura Maggi and Brendan McCarthy of The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, for an investigation into abuses by New Orleans police following Hurricane Katrina.

_George Polk Career Award: Sandy Close, executive director of New America Media.

(This version CORRECTS that AP was first to report drilling rig sank.)

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