ASNE names Local Accountability Award for Frank Blethen

Sponsored by The Seattle Times, the Frank A. Blethen Award for Local Accountability Reporting will recognize investigative journalism that holds important local institutions accountable for their actions.
The American Society of News Editors announced Tuesday that its award for local accountability reporting will be named for Seattle Times Publisher and Chief Executive Officer Frank A. Blethen. 


The Frank A. Blethen Award for Local Accountability Reporting recognizes investigative journalism that holds important local institutions accountable for their actions. Unlike most other journalism awards, the submitted work needs to be anchored in a community that is the primary audience of the publication, and preference is given to reporting that makes a demonstrable difference in that community.


Winners of the award, which will now be sponsored by The Seattle Times Company for the next three years, receive $2,500.


"Over the past three decades, there has been no greater champion of local investigative reporting than Frank Blethen," said David Boardman, the immediate past president of ASNE and former editor of The Times, now dean of the School of Media and Communication at Temple University. "Naming this award for Frank not only honors him, but also underscores the importance of the prize and the kind of work it celebrates."


Blethen, 70, has been publisher and CEO of The Times since 1985 after joining the family business in 1968. The Blethen family has operated the newspaper since its founding in 1896.

Blethen is a graduate of Arizona State University and did postgraduate work at Harvard University. During his tenure as publisher, The Times has won six Pulitzer Prizes, including this year's Pulitzer in Breaking News Reporting. During that same period, The Times has been a Pulitzer finalist 13 times. Most of the Pulitzer winners and finalists were investigative projects focused on local institutions, including Boeing, hospitals, state agencies and courts.


In 2011, in recognition of Blethen's leadership on behalf of quality journalism, he was the first publisher to be awarded ASNE's News Leadership Award.

"I can't imagine a greater honor," said Blethen. "I am certainly humbled. I hope this award will encourage and inspire more outstanding watchdog reporting in this too-often neglected area of news. If it does, I am confident communities will be the better for it and lives will be saved."


The ASNE Awards are among the most prestigious in journalism and cover nine categories that recognize the best in print, online and mobile content. Inspired by former ASNE President Eugene Patterson and started in 1979, the contest is open to all newspapers, news services and online publications in the United States. 


Other ASNE Awards: 

  • The Batten Medal, sponsored by a group of editors from the former Knight Ridder company, honors the memory of revered reporter, editor and newspaper executive James K. Batten. The winner receives $2,500.
  • The Burl Osborne ASNE Award for Editorial Leadership, sponsored by The Dallas Morning News, recognizes editorial writing that makes a difference in a community. The winner receives $2,500.
  • The Deborah Howell Award for Nondeadline Writing, sponsored by Advance, Inc., recognizes excellence in writing that's not accomplished on deadline. The winner receives $2,500.
  • The Dori J. Maynard Award for Diversity in Journalism, sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, celebrates journalism that overcomes ignorance, stereotypes, intolerance, racism or hate. The winner receives $2,500. 
  • The Mike Royko Award for Commentary/Column Writing, sponsored by the Chicago Tribune, recognizes excellence in journalism that expresses a personal point of view. The winner receives $2,500.
  • The Punch Sulzberger Award for Online Storytelling, sponsored by The New York Times, recognizes excellence in the use of digital tools to tell news stories. The winner receives $2,500.
  • Community service photojournalism award
  • Distinguished writing award for breaking news