LAWRENCE — The Hutchinson News and The Arkansas City Traveler are the winners of the 2011 Burton W. Marvin Kansas News Enterprise Award.
The Burton Marvin Award recognizes outstanding reporting by newspapers in Kansas. The award, given since 1974 by the William Allen White Foundation, is named in honor of the foundation’s first director and a former dean of the KU School of Journalism. The award will be presented Friday, Feb. 10, during William Allen White Day activities at the University of Kansas.
“We congratulate the recipients of this year’s awards,” said Ann Brill, dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications. “These journalists represent the high quality of Kansas newspapers and demonstrate the critical need for good journalism in our communities.”
City government reporter Ken Stephens, with The Hutchinson News, helped lead a series of reports focusing on the housing blight in Hutchinson. The stories, which ran in July and August, began after Stephens’ initial report following a visit to the house of a young mother and her two children that was deteriorating. The visit happened following the adoption of the International Property Maintenance Code by the city, as well as the release of the Mayor’s Housing Task Force report.
The series prompted a sweeping evaluation of the deteriorating housing in Hutchinson. As part of his reporting, Stephens also utilized mapping software to help illustrate the quality and health of housing around the city.
Burton Marvin judges said, “The comprehensive coverage reflected the newspaper’s commitment to serve the public. Its outstanding planning and execution had significance to The Hutchinson News readers.”
Reporter Andrew Lawson, with The Arkansas City Traveler, uncovered “controversial” agreements between the city and key departing employees. Through thorough investigation of public records Lawson found these agreements, which were a surprise to the public as well as some elected officials, were made to compensate key public officials who had resigned amid controversy or in secrecy, using public funds. The agreements would cost the city thousands of dollars.
Judges commented the story was a great example of reporting, saying “The Traveler displayed persistence and effectiveness in gathering information through knowledgeable sources and examination of public records.”
The School of Journalism observes William Allen White Day annually in February to coincide with White’s birthday. This year the White Foundation trustees chose Candy Crowley, CNN’s chief political correspondent, to receive the citation, presented annually since 1950 to journalists who exemplify the ideals of William Allen White. KU's William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications is named in White's honor. White (1868-1944) was a nationally influential Kansas editor and publisher.