The Dallas Bar Association handed out its Philbin Awards this afternoon, and the blog you are now reading was honored for Claire St. Amant’s coverage of the ESD trial. Alas, Claire is no longer with us, so I’ll have to congratulate her from afar. Jump for the press release.
Dallas Bar Salutes Excellence in Legal Reporting
Local Media Take Home the Awards!
The Dallas Bar Association honored the best legal news reporting in the Dallas-Fort Worth area today as it hosted the 29th Annual Stephen Philbin Awards at the Belo Mansion. In selecting the winners, judges consider educational value, accuracy, resourcefulness, as well as the journalist’s initiative in pursuing the story and the story’s contribution to public debate; nearly 50 news reports/features were submitted this year.
The KTVT/CBS 11 team of Ginger Allen, Lisa Blegen, Jack Douglas, Mike Lozano and Daniel Penz took home the Grand Prize for their investigative look into “Deaths at Dawson Jail,” an in-depth report on the medical standards of care at the Dallas jail.
In the category of Metropolitan/Statewide Spot News, The Dallas Morning News reporter Jennifer Emily took home the award for her article, “Guilty Verdict in Saga of Socialite’s Mansion.” Her well-written article provided readers with an insider’s look at the local saga involving Mary Ellen Bendtsen, her Swiss Avenue mansion and the guilty verdict for those trying to swindle her out of her home.
Also of The Dallas Morning, Mike Drago and Michael A. Lindenberger earned this year’s Metropolitan/Statewide Newspaper Feature award. Their article “Anything Goes NTTA Culture Cited” was a product of many weeks of investigation into the relationships between NTTA and its legacy consulting firms.
The recipient in the category of best Metropolitan/Statewide Newspaper Series were also from The Dallas Morning News. Reporters Selwyn Crawford and Diane Jennings related the journey through the criminal justice system of an innocent bystander who was convicted amid much fanfare, only to be quietly pardoned and released a year later. The judges said their series “The Unknown Exonoree,” did an excellent job of researching beyond the obvious means and entertained readers with historical detail provided throughout the series.
Lowell Brown, Dawn Cobb and Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, writing for the The Denton Record-Chronicle, won the Philbin Award in the category of Suburban Newspapers. In “Grand Jury System Questioned,” the reporters investigated the grand jury “key-man” system in Denton County and uncovered some troubling facts.
The best Radio/Television News Report award was presented to Glenn Dickson, Phil Fleming, Becky Oliver and Donna Ressl of KDFW/Fox 4 News for their well-researched report on the questionable practices of the Texas Medical Board. The judges said the story was told in a thorough and concise way that went above and beyond the normal investigation.
Best in the Magazine Feature category was Michael J. Mooney of D Magazine. His article “Could You Forgive the Man Who Shot You in the Face,” presented readers with a compelling article about a Dallas man who went on a revenge killing spree days after 9/11 and one of the survivors who surprisingly, went on to lobby on behalf of the man’s execution.
In electronic media, Claire St. Amant of Preston Hollow People was the winner. In her “ESD Trial Coverage,” blog, she prepared a unique, real-time blog that kept readers up-to-date on the controversial Episcopal School of Dallas trial.
The Philbin Awards were established in 1983 in honor of Stephen Philbin, an active member of the Dallas Bar Association and a leading authority on media law, who lost his battle with leukemia in 1982. Winners in each of the categories receive a $750 cash award, with the Grand Prize winner receiving a $1,500 cash award. Winning entries are selected by a panel of judges (including a university professor and two local lawyers).
Jeffrey Toobin, attorney, author and senior analyst for CNN Worldwide, was the keynote speaker for this year’s Philbin Awards Luncheon, which included an audience of more than 350 lawyers, judges and journalists. This year’s luncheon was co-sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Dallas Fort Worth.