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Capitolbeat announces 2009 “Best of Statehouse Reporting” awards

August 23, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS  – Outstanding coverage of the downfall of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich highlighted this year’s “Best of Statehouse Reporting” awards, handed out over the weekend by Capitolbeat, the national association of state capitol reporters and editors

The Chicago Sun-Times and Illinois Public Radio placed first in their media categories for reports on the ousted governor. The Chicago Tribune and The Associated Press received special mention for their coverage.

Also singled out for awards were reports on Connecticut’s budget woes, predatory lending in Georgia, New Mexico contract bidding and Oregon’s aging prison population.

Reporters from the Fresno Bee, the Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, Idaho Public Television and WSPA-TV in Columbia, S.C., were among those winning top honors for overall statehouse coverage.

First prizes for commentary and news analysis went to AP, the online Arizona Guardian, Illinois Issues magazine and public broadcasters in Minnesota and Iowa, among others.

Capitolbeat’s 2009 John Aubuchon Freedom of Information Award went to Jennifer Peebles of TexasWatchDog.org, for pursuing ethics disclosures from state legislators and then posting them online with an interactive map.

Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation of Florida, judged that entry and called Peeble’s work “a true public service to the citizens of Texas. “

The award, named in honor of Capitolbeat founding member John Aubuchon, recognizes extraordinary examples of persistence by journalists in pursuing documents and meetings critical for public understanding of state government issues.

Capitolbeat marks its 10th anniversary this year as the nation’s only professional association devoted to state government journalism. Its annual awards honor the finest beat and in-depth reporting, single reports and columns, commentary and analysis in an array of media: newspapers, wire services, radio, television and online publications.

The 2009 awards were handed out Saturday, Aug. 22, at a banquet ending the organization’s three-day conference at the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis.

Capitolbeat also continued its college journalism awards, begun in 2008.  Josh Smith, editor-in-chief of the University Journal at Southern Utah University, won for news reporting while Todd Wilson of The State Hornet at California State University, Sacramento, was honored for commentary.

See the contest page for the complete list of winners.

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