CTSPJ Announces Winners of the 2014 Excellence in Journalism Contest

Stories about police departments failing FOI compliance checks, train derailments along the Metro North line and a charter school CEO with a shady past were among those that garnered top awards at the Connecticut SPJ awards dinner Thursday, May 21.

The Connecticut pro chapter of SPJ handed out more than 300 awards to journalists around the state, inducted a new member into its Connecticut Journalism Hall of Fame, and gave out four scholarships to college students. The event was held at Seasons at the Tradition in Wallingford.

CTSPJ hands out three all-media awards each year, where journalists compete against all news outlets in investigative reporting, public service reporting and First Amendment/open government reporting.

The First Amendment Award was given to Viktoria Sundqvist, Michelle Tuccitto Sullo and the Digital First Media staff for their entry “Connecticut police departments fail FOI compliance checks.”

Judges said of the reporting: “Extensive reporting here really shed light on whether police departments were releasing mandatory information. An important package.”

The Stephen A. Collins Public Service Award was given to the Connecticut Post for its series Fix the Trains. Among those award from the post were Bill Cummings, Bill Lambrecht, Martin B. Cassidy, Neil Vigdor, Fausto Giovanny Pinto, Jason Rearick, Christian Abraham, Ned Gerard and Brian A. Pounds.

Judges said of the Post’s reporting: “This was a strong example of aggressive, thorough and courageous journalism.”

The Theodore Driscoll Award for Investigative Reporting was given to the Hartford Courant staff for its entry, Charter school group investigation.

Judges said: “In a field with some very good investigative reporting, the charter school group coverage stood out for its depth, detail and sheer doggedness. While covering the story of a CEO with a shady past that might or might not impact his job performance, these reporters carefully tugged at a number of threads to show how the story was bigger than one man’s disclosure mistake. They documented a pattern of potentially concerning issues that, taken as a whole, could not be ignored. This was thorough, clearly presented and very well done.”

The 2014 Excellence in Journalism contest received more than 800 entries.

The full list of winners is available to download here in a Word document and a sortable Excel spreadsheet.

CTSPJ inducted Cindy Simoneau, chair of the journalism department at Southern Connecticut State University, to its Connecticut Journalism Hall of Fame during the dinner. A three-time past president of the CTSPJ board, Simoneau is a former assistant managing editor for the Connecticut Post. Read more about her achievements here.

CTSPJ awarded its Helen M. Loy award to a team from the Connecticut Law Tribune that fought a prior restraint ruling regarding its coverage of a DCF custody battle. Read more about the winners here.

Scholarships through the Bob Eddy Scholarship Program were award to Gabriel Rosenberg of Wesleyan University, Issac Stein of the University of Chicago, Samantha Tomaszewski, of Lehigh University, and Monique Atkinson of Boston University. Read more about the winners here.

Please also take our survey as we consider possible changes to the categories and circulation classes for next year’s contest.

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