- - Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Longtime Washington Times columnist Deborah Simmons and a major Times investigation into the finances of Bill and Hillary Clinton were among the top honorees at the local Society of Professional Journalists‘ Sigma Delta Chi Dateline Awards presented Tuesday evening at the National Press Club.

Altogether, writers for The Times were honored in five categories for online and print coverage of sports, local and national news, arts criticism and politics.

A major investigative piece by reporter Kelly Riddell and former Editor John Solomon on the Clinton Foundation’s solicitation of funds from Sweden while Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, published in June 2015, was named the top investigative report and was given the Sigma Delta Chi’s Robert D.G. Lewis Watchdog Journalism Award for the entry that “best exemplifies journalism aimed at protecting the public from abuses by those who would betray the public trust.”

The Lewis Watchdog Award is the Washington chapter’s “highest award” and includes a $1,000 prize for the authors. The SPJ judges said the article represented a “meticulously researched piece on how Bill Clinton’s charitable fundraising and speechmaking intertwined with Hillary Clinton’s official governmental work overseas.”

Ms. Simmons, who has chronicled local politics and social trends as a Metro reporter, editor and columnist for more than two decades at The Times, was named the top columnist in the dateline newspaper category. She was cited for a column examining the costs and benefits to the city of a proposed new sports arena in Anacostia.

Anthony Gulizia won the award for top sports report for a feature on the relationship between Washington Redskins rookie Jamison Crowder and his brother, who was born with Down syndrome. Fellow sportswriters for The Times, Zac Boyer and Todd Dybas, were finalists in the same category.

In the commentary and criticism competition, critic Peter Suderman won top honors for his movie reviews.

The Times’ staff coverage of Pope Francis’ 2015 visit to Washington was named a finalist in the non-breaking-news category. An Associated Press report on gentrification and real estate speculation took top honors in the category.

The entries were judged by the SPJ’s Fort Worth, Texas, chapter.

In addition, former Washington Times reporter and columnist Jonetta Rose Barras was inducted into the local SPJ Hall of Fame along with CBS newsman Bill Plante and longtime New Yorker D.C. correspondent Elizabeth Drew. Ms. Barras, who has been a distinctive voice covering D.C. controversies for the City Paper, WAMU and The Washington Post in the course of her career, thanked Washington Times editor-in-chief emeritus and columnist Wesley Pruden for giving her a start in journalism.

The Dateline Awards honor excellence in local reporting in a range of media, including print, radio and television journalism as well as online and trade publication reporting. Among the other multiple winners were the Center for Public Integrity, WTOP, Bethesda Magazine and the Washington Blade.

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