Rolling Stone magazine and the Associated Press among winners of the 2010 George Polk Awards

February 23rd, 2011 - 5:02 am ICT by BNO News  

NEW YORK (BNO NEWS) — Long Island University in New York on Tuesday announced the winners of 13 George Polk Awards for 2010, including a Rolling Stone magazine reporter for producing an illuminating dispatch from the front lines of the war in Afghanistan and the Associated Press for its groundbreaking coverage of the Gulf oil spill.

The New York Times and the independent non-profit news organization ProPublica each earned two Polk Awards, while the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was honored with a Polk Award for the third-straight year. Judges twice awarded the collaborative efforts of multiple news organizations. ProPublica, The Times-Picayune of New Orleans and PBS’ “Frontline” won the George Polk Award for Television Reporting, while ProPublica and National Public Radio joined forces to produce work that garnered them the Polk Award for Radio Reporting.

“After a drought of several years, a number of major metropolitan newspapers produced significant investigative work during 2010,” said John Darnton, curator of the George Polk Awards. “And for the first time, there were some truly noteworthy collaborative projects across print, television, radio and the Internet.”

The George Polk Awards in Journalism are conferred annually to honor special achievement in journalism, with a premium placed on investigative and enterprise reporting. They were established in 1949 by Long Island University to commemorate George Polk, a CBS correspondent who was murdered in 1948 while covering the Greek civil war.

The 2010 George Polk Awards will be presented at a luncheon at The Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan on April 7. Associated Press correspondent and former CBS News reporter Kimberly Dozier, who was seriously injured in a 2006 car bombing in Iraq that killed two of her colleagues, will be the citation reader. The program also will include a special presentation to Wilbert Rideau, a former death row inmate who earned the 1979 George Polk Award for Special Interest Reporting while working as the editor of his Louisiana prison’s magazine.

Michael Hastings of Rolling Stone will receive the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting for “The Runaway General,” a history-making piece that prompted President Obama’s dismissal of U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal as commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Hastings’ explosive magazine piece last summer revealed the strategic discrepancies and political infighting that underlies the American military mission. A veteran journalist who also has covered the Iraq War, Hastings followed Gen. McChrystal and his team of top advisers from Paris to Kabul to Kandahar, while building a profile that depicted Gen. McChrystal as an outsider who didn’t get along with many top officials in the Obama administration. The Rolling Stone piece also included an array of disparaging remarks made by the Gen. McChrystal’s loyal staffers about top officials in the Obama administration, including Vice President Joe Biden.

“Michael Hastings’ magazine piece captured a worrisome cowboy mentality among Gen. McChrystal’s inner circle,” said Darnton. “The general’s officers disparaged our allies, our diplomats and our top elected leaders - all of which pointed to a disconnect between Washington and the warriors that was disturbing and potentially dangerous.”

The George Polk Award for Environmental Reporting will recognize the colossal effort made by the Associated Press in covering last year’s massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The AP was the first news organization to report that the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig had sank following an explosion. Later, AP investigative reporters detailed how equipment failures and deference to the chain of command helped bring about the disaster. In response to an AP report that revealed that more than 27,000 abandoned oil wells existed in the Gulf and that their condition was unknown to the industry or the government, President Obama ordered oil companies to permanently plug 3,500 of the neglected wells. The AP’s multimedia coverage of the 206 million-gallon oil spill included a compelling video report that showed how it devastated the natural environment and the local economy.

Further, the George Polk Award for Foreign Reporting will go to Clifford J. Levy and Ellen Barry of The New York Times for their courageous coverage of Russia throughout 2010. Based in Moscow, the two correspondents enlightened readers time and time again with hard-hitting reports that spurred candid discussion in Russia about how far the country had strayed from post-Soviet Union promises that no one would remain above the law. The Times’ “Above the Law” series provided gripping accounts of Russians harassed, beaten and jailed by the same authorities they had stood up against. The powerful reports from Levy and Barry in many cases helped these beleaguered Russian citizens achieve vindication and a measure of protection. The Times stories - which included video reports - were cited regularly inside Russia, where journalists often are punished for such muckraking.

“Top Secret America,” a two-year investigation that for the first time cast light into the shadows of the enormous ecosystem of military, intelligence and corporate interests spawned in the decade after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, earned The Washington Post’s Dana Priest and William M. Arkin the George Polk Award for National Reporting. Priest and Arkin revealed that the business of keeping Americans safe is an operation that involves 854,000 people with top-secret security clearances working on counter-terrorism and homeland-security issues for 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 privates companies in some 10,000 locations across the U.S. The government’s national security and intelligence system, the series showed, has grown so big and become so complex - and relies so heavily on private contractors - that it’s virtually impossible to know whether it’s fulfilling its most important purpose: keeping citizens safe.

Further, the George Polk Award for Local Reporting will go to the Los Angeles Times for its report on the working-class city of Bell, the George Polk Award for Metropolitan Reporting will go to The Star-Ledger for a series of stories that blew the lid off the hidden world of steroid use and fraud among law enforcement officers across New Jersey, and the George Polk Award for Education Reporting will go to Bloomberg News for an array of scathing reports that detailed how the for-profit college industry experienced tremendous growth in 10 years by targeting underprivileged students who qualify for federal financial aid.

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