May 1, 2008

Winners at the 2008 Payne Awards

Filed under: Uncategorized — jameslutes @ 8:50 am

Since 1999, the UO’s SOJC has honored journalistic integrity by hosting the annual Payne Awards for Ethics in Journalism. The awards ceremony was created by the late Ancil Payne, an established Seattle Broadcaster and former CEO of KING Broadcasting who was renowned for his dedication to journalistic ethics. The awards’ panel of judges is made up of a collection of professional journalists and academics, a number of which are faculty here at the UO. Each year this panel reviews numerous instances of fearless commitments to journalistic principles to determine which individual or organization is most deserving of recognition.

This year, three equally deserving nominees received Payne Awards – The Phoenix New-Times and The Spokesman-Review in the News Organization category, and Ashley Gough in the Collegiate Media category. Each of these recipients committed clear acts of journalistic conviction that embody the exact ideals Ancil Payne was trying to honor when he established the awards.

The Phoenix New-Times was honored after some of its journalists were arrested when they refused to divulge information to a grand jury regarding their coverage of an underhanded Phoenix sheriff. After the paper published a cover story that exposed this story, public support for the arrested New-Times reporters influenced the state to drop all charges.

The Spokesman-Review was honored with a Payne Award after it initiated an audit of itself by the Washington News Council. The paper instigated the audit after it (and perhaps more importantly, the public) recognized a major conflict of interest between its coverage of a controversial civic redevelopment program and the paper’s publisher and president. Although this act of self-policing was potentially detrimental to the paper, The Spokesman-Review proceeded with it anyway.

Ashely Gough, the editor of the Mount Observer at Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, Mass., received a Payne Award for boldly standing up to her college president. After a massive dissapearance of editions of a Mount Observer that contained a critical article on the college’s president, Gough authored an article that (correctly) implicated the president in the missing papers, and then founded a First Amendment forum at the school.

All of these instances are examples of how a journalist should conduct his or herself professionally. Hopefully, the Payne Awards will inspire future journalists, whether they be editors, reporters or public relations practitioners, to act with the same diligence and conviction when morally confronted.


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