Non-Profit Journalists Honored At Capitol Reporting Awards

Monday, November 15th, 2010


Franklin Center Captures First Journalism Award

Alexandria, VA –  Capitolbeat, the national Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, honored two of the Franklin Center’s networked reporters with awards at Capitolbeat’s annual conference in Arizona this weekend. MarylandReporter.com’s coverage of state government won two awards while the Online In-depth Reporting Award winner was Kevin Lee, reporter at Illinois Statehouse News Bureau (ISN).

“Day after day, ISN and MarylandReporter.com relentlessly pursues the truth by holding the elected officials in Illinois and Maryland accountable to the people. This award is a testament to the terrific work that they do every day,” said Franklin Center President Jason Stverak. “The Franklin Center is proud to work with some of the most talented and accomplished journalists in the industry and looks forward to reading their great stories well into the future.”

MarylandReporter.com editor Len Lazarick won the first place Cappie award for coverage in the online news category of the Excellence in State House Reporting contest for what the judges called his “solid body of beat reporting.” The judges also gave Lazarick a third place award for news analysis for his articles on General Assembly compensation.

The Online In-depth Reporting Award is for Kevin Lee’s exemplary journalistic work on the fraudulent General Assembly Scholarship Program in Illinois. Partnering with journalism students from Columbia College in Chicago, their investigation delved into the century old legislative scholarship program that allows legislators to award scholarships, many of which, ISN discovered, were directed to the children of the recommending lawmakers’ campaign contributors.  ISN also found that the scholarship students and their parents were solicited, not only for additional campaign donations, but to assist in campaign work by marching in parades and going door-to-door on behalf of their benefactor lawmaker. Shortly after the story was published, the Illinois House passed a bill eliminating the program and the bill is now under consideration in the Senate.

Dozens of other news organizations from around the country were also honored for their State House coverage. Capitolbeat was formed 11 years ago by a group of reporters and news organizations concerned about the diminishing coverage of state government.  According to its mission statement, the association “exists to advance public understanding of state government and the issues before state government, and to educate and share information with its members and the public on best practices, tools and techniques in state government reporting.”

Illinois Statehouse News (ISN) is a fresh set of eyes and ears covering the daily happenings in Illinois state government.  Dedicated to covering issues of importance to Illinoisans, ISN is committed to filling the growing vacuum in state-based coverage of happenings in capitols across America. ISN is an initiative of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.  Dedicated to exposing waste, fraud, and abuse at all levels of government, the Franklin Center networks with journalists and organizations covering the daily activities of state government and continues our work holding elected and public officials accountable to the people. For more information on ISN visit Illinois.StateHouseNewsOnline.com.

MarylandReporter.com is a daily, independent news website produced by journalists committed to making state government as open, transparent, accountable and responsive as possible – in deed, not just in promise. They believe the people who pay for this government are entitled to have their money spent in an efficient and effective way, and that they are entitled to keep as much of their hard-earned dollars as they possibly can. MarylandReporter.com was launched with the help of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, which has assisted it with grant-writing and sources of financial support and by connecting it with others who are working to produce reporting in the nonprofit model from statehouses around the country.

For more information, please visit FranklinCenterHQ.org

**Note – To set up an interview with Franklin Center President Jason Stverak please contact Meghan Tisinger at Meghan.Tisinger@FranklinCenterhq.org or 202-680-9023.

Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity promotes social welfare and civil betterment by undertaking programs that promote journalism and the education of the public about corruption, incompetence, fraud, or taxpayer abuse by elected officials at all levels of government. Founded in January of 2009, The Franklin Center is a nonpartisan organization that believes that new technology can advance the cause of transparency in government. The Franklin Center aims to educate, to advise and to train individuals and organizations from all backgrounds to become thorough, unbiased and responsible reporters well versed in new media techniques and journalistic integrity. For more information on the Franklin Center please visit www.FranklinCenterHQ.org

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