DALLAS, TX (Dec. 1) – Ten Texas news staffs were awarded top prizes last night at the first-ever Hugh Aynesworth Awards for Excellence in Journalism, sponsored by the Press Club of Dallas.

WFAA-TV Channel 8 sports anchor Dale Hansen emceed the event, held at the Sixth Floor Museum, and attended by about 150 people.  Press Club board members Barry Hoffman and Jo Ann Holt-Caussey co-chaired the awards event.

Winners were from throughout the state of Texas and covered a wide range of journalism categories:

Daily newspaper investigative reporting – Miles Moffeit and Sue Ambrose, The Dallas Morning News, Dec. 2, 2016: Bled Dry: How hospitals fall victim to fraudsters, felons and profiteers.

Television investigative reporting – NBC5/KXAS TV DFW
Reporter – Scott Friedman; investigative producer – Eva Parks; photographer – Peter Hull; law enforcement expert – Don Peritz
Big Buses, Bigger Problems, first reporting in a continuing series aired Oct. 4, 2016

Radio Investigative reporting – KERA, Dallas
Reporter: Lauren Silverman,
Pastoral Medicine Credentials Raise Questions in Texas. April 6, 2016

Magazine investigative reporting – Fort Worth Magazine
Reporter – Sean Chaffin
Tarrant County Cold Cases Await Evidence, Witnesses December Issue 2016

Digital news site investigative reporting – The Arlington Voice
Reporter – Mike McGee
City, mum on alleged police quota system, refusing document releases. July 21, 2016

Daily newspaper feature reporting – Austin American-Statesman
Reporter Phil Jankowski,
A Rambler’s Life Dec. 1, 2016.

Weekly newspaper feature reporting – Howe Enterprise
Reporter – Monte Walker
EF1 Tornado; EF5 Community May 2, 2016

Radio feature reporting – KSTX, San Antonio Public Radio
Reporter Paul Flahive
Ease In Anti-Overdose Drug Access Leads to More Lives Saved. June 24, 2016

Daily newspaper feature photography – Austin American-Statesman
Photographer –Jay Janner
South by Southwest Austin Music Festival, Dec. 20, 2016

Daily newspaper feature photography –
Robert Moore

Dallas Photographer Shielded by Police Officer during Shooting Captures the Moment, July 7, 2016

Seven other finalists also received certificates for their work.

Hugh Aynesworth is a four-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, best known for his coverage of the John F. Kennedy assassination and books about serial killers Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer. He is a past president of the Press Club of Dallas and has worked as reporter or editor for a number of news organizations including ABC News (20/20), Newsweek Magazine, and both the Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Times Herald.

Before the awards ceremony began, Hansen and Aynesworth shared some memories and concerns for the audience. Both expressed alarm at the scorn and derision the news media are facing from the White House.

“I’ve never in my life seen this sort of pressure the press has been under,” Aynesworth, 86, said. “The press has not always been admired by a President, but this idea of ‘fake news’ is a new low.”

“And that’s why these journalism awards are even more important than they normally would be,” Hansen replied. “It’s important to remind people about the excellent work the news media really do, every day.”

Press Club of Dallas President Cary Broussard expressed her thanks for all the volunteers and sponsors who made the event possible. Broussard promised that the Aynesworth Awards will become a cornerstone of press club projects in the future.

A complete list of winners and finalists, along with the judges’ comments, is attached:

          Winners and Finalists — The Hugh Aynesworth Awards for Excellence in Journalism in 2016

Categories

Investigative reporting, daily newspapers

Division 1 – 100,000+ circulation

Winner – Miles Moffeit and Sue Ambrose, the Dallas Morning News, Dec. 2, 2016
Bled Dry: How hospitals fall victim to fraudsters, felons and profiteers.
Judge’s comments: “Miles Moffeit delivers an impressive, precise and fact-packed investigation of hospitals run to the ground because of shady owners and lax oversight. His reporting is exemplary, his writing is taut, and his narrative is compelling. In Part 1, he drives the message home through interviews with those hurt the most. With Sue Ambrose in Part 2, he broadens the story — again with well-documented reporting — to show that the Texas problem is not an aberration by any means. Stunning photographs by Andy Jacobsohn and Irwin Thompson help illustrate the human cost of all this.
The follow-up editorial and proposed state legislation are reminders of why stories like this work—and how they can change lives.”

Finalist – The Austin American-Statesman Investigates Team, Oct. 21, 2016 Silent majority: Texas’ booming Hispanic population deeply underrepresented in local politics.
Judge’s comments:Awesome data fuels this excellent series on the under-representation by Latinos in local Texas politics. The team did a strong job of breaking out the reasons why through various stories – with many strong voices — across the state. As an incredibly well-done public service piece, this should have delivered a strong message to politicians everywhere.”

Investigative reporting, Television

Division 1 – Nielsen Market 1-50
Winner – NBC5/KXAS TV DFW
Reporter – Scott Friedman; investigative producer – Eva Parks; photographer – Peter Hull; law enforcement expert – Don Peritz
Big Buses, Bigger Problems, first reporting in a continuing series aired Oct. 4, 2016
Judges’ comments:  “An excellent series with very classy editing, good shooting, and clear, easy to follow writing.  It was well set up at the beginning, well investigated and balanced as far as possible. The original report breathed new life into two hardy news perennials, traffic safety and education.  The bus video is scary, and it appears sincere efforts were made to tell the school district’s side of the story.”

Finalists – a tie

FOX4 KDFW Dallas/Ft. Worth
Broken System Fails Abused Animals May 16 and 17, 2016
Reporter – Lori Brown; Investigative Producer – Vicki Chen
Judges’ comments: “A good story but very straightforward and edited like an every-day story, but definitely a compelling topic. The video is graphic, although wisely, it stops short of showing the most disturbing evidence of abuse.”

KSAT 12 San Antonio
When Moments Matter aired Nov. 10, 2016
Investigative Reporter – Myra Arthur; Investigative Producer – Dillon Collier;
Investigative Photojournalist/Editor – Josh Saunders
Judges’ comments:  “Classy editing (nicely done fire department radio audio).  The reporter used FOIA records.  The drowned man being a “war hero” in four tours of duty is important to set up something sympathetic and emotional, the randomness of drowning for a good deed, especially when help was actually at the scene.”

Investigative reporting, radio

Division 1 – Nielsen market 1-50

Winner: KERA, Dallas
Reporter: Lauren Silverman,
Pastoral Medicine Credentials Raise Questions in Texas          April 6, 2016
Judge’s comments:  “Have you ever heard of a ‘pastoral doctor?’
Reporter Lauren Silverman tells you about them in her well-researched report. With clear writing, thorough interviews and good use of sound (including an illustrative montage of audio from some web sites) Silverman tells you what people who call themselves pastoral doctors say they can do for you and, also, why you might want to think carefully before making an appointment. It’s news you can use.”

Finalists: KERA, KUHF,
Reporters, Stella Chavez, KERA; Laura Isensee, KUHF
Latino Superintendents Lead School Districts in Texas’ Eight Largest Cities Sep. 20, 2016
Judge’s comments “Chavez and Isensee provide an overview of the Latinos who are now the Superintendent of Schools in the state’s eight largest cities…and why that’s significant for Texas school children.

Investigative reporting, magazines

Winner – Fort Worth Magazine
Reporter – Sean Chaffin
Tarrant County Cold Cases Await Evidence, Witnesses December Issue 2016
Judge’s comments: “Fort Worth magazine’s look at “cold cases” is a richly-reported analysis of an important, but often-overlooked, part of police work. These are the cases that linger, for lack of evidence, or a suspect, or the witness that can shed light on what happened many years ago. Memories dim, witnesses die, or other cases take precedence.”
“Whatever the reason, the cases go cold and the families of the victims and the police alike do not get closure. Sean Chaffin did a fine job weaving history, contemporary reporting and telling detail to explain how unsolved cases still rattle the minds of those involved many years after the crime was committed. It’s an eye-opening look at how unsolved cases gnaw at both the police and the communities affected alike.”

Finalist: The Advocate Media Magazine, Oak Cliff
Reporter: Keri Mitchell
Why do so many suburban students attend Dallas ISD’s top magnet schools? Nov. 18, 2016
Judge’s comments:The Advocate’s inquiry into why out-of-district students were gaining admission into magnet schools, often at the expense of local students, raised serious questions about an issue of great importance to local communities. The fact that well-heeled families from the suburbs were able to get their children into Dallas school district magnet schools was well known to educators, parents and politicians but uncovering the reasons and explaining them in detail is an example of fine public service journalism.”

Investigative reporting, digital news site/wire service

Winner: The Arlington Voice
Reporter – Mike McGee
City, mum on alleged police quota system, refusing document releases. July 21, 2016
Judge’s comments: “The investigative piece shows some initiative, and the reporter worked hard to try to get all sides of the story. Many questions remain as the investigation continues and criminal charges are contemplated. There was still too much at stake for the accused officers, and reporter probably didn’t want to make those accusations directly while the investigation is continuing. But the groundwork was laid through journalistic hard work.”

Feature reporting, daily newspapers

Category 1 – 100,000+ circulation

*Winner – Phil Jankowski, Austin American-Statesman
A Rambler’s Life Dec. 1, 2016.
From the entry: “Jankowski, who was covering the police beat at the time, had heard about this somewhat legendary car that had made its way from (Austin) comic to comic before going missing. And then he heard about the rest of the story and knew there was a good tale to tell.”
Judge’s comment: “That Austin American-Statesman story on the Rambler is sheer delight. All the way to the end quote!”

Feature reporting, weekly newspapers

Winner – Howe Enterprise
Reporter – Monte Walker
EF1 Tornado; EF5 Community May 2, 2016
Judge’s comments: “This story is the very definition of local news—and why it still matters.  It was produced only 5 days after the tornado went through with an on-the-scene feel running through the text and an amazing spread of photos. Add a Page 1 column on “coincidences,” and local readers surely must have felt satisfied that their newspaper joined the conversation so well.” 

Finalist: Progress Times
Reporter: Jose De Leon III
Samaritans donate new abode to Mission octogenarian Dec. 9, 2016
Judge’s comment: “A lovely story and the best kind of local news—good news. It was well-written, with great quotes and great detail on what happened. It gave you a sense of really being there.”

Feature reporting, Radio

Category 1 –Nielsen market 1-50

Winner: KSTX, San Antonio Public Radio
Reporter Paul Flahive
Ease In Anti-Overdose Drug Access Leads To More Lives Saved. June 24, 2016
Paul Flahive blends interviews with natural sound to bring us along with him onto the streets of San Antonio. There we meet the people who are in the middle of the drug scene and learn how they’re using the drug Naloxone to save the lives of overdose victims. This is an important look at a local effort that’s trying to deal with the opioid epidemic that’s sweeping the nation. Excellent, community-oriented, broadcast journalism.”

Finalist: KSTX San Antonio Public Radio
Reporter David Martin Davies
Lessons Learned from a night in the Bexar County jail Oct. 21, 2016
Judge’s comments: “David Martin Davies takes us inside the Bexar County Jail. It’s a place where four inmates killed themselves in the space of a month last year. Davies got permission to spend the night there and, through his first-person account, interviews with a prisoner, jail guards and officials, and the sounds captured by his microphone, we get some idea of what they may have experienced.”

Photography – Newspapers

Category – Spot News, circulation 100,000 +

Winner:  Robert Moore, Dallas Voice*
*Although this photo was taken for the Dallas Voice, it was picked up by major news outlets throughout the world.
Judge’s comment: “The intensity of the gaze of the police officer indicates he is on high alert and determined to do his job, whatever the cost. The shallow depth of field and night street light also adds more intensity without having to show more of the scene or exactly whom he is trying to protect. You also get the sense that the officer, despite the situation, was calm, controlled and professional.”

Category – Feature photography, circulation 100,000+

Winner: Jay Janner, Austin American-Statesman
Judge’s comment: “Janner’s photographs of Austin’s annual South by Southwest music festival did not focus solely on the bands performing but the emotion, the overall scene, including a flash of lightning. He clearly told the story from all angles, which kept the viewer clicking through the gallery.”

CONTACT: Jo Ann Holt-Caussey joannholt@gmail.com or 469-363-7371 for media information including photos or interviews.