ASNE Awards 1998

1998 Awards: Editors group honors journalists for writing, deadline reporting
Posted 3/1/1998 5:26:00 PM


RESTON, Va.  – The American Society of Newspaper Editors has selected seven winners in the 1998 Distinguished Writing Awards and Jesse Laventhol Prizes competition:

  • Ken Fuson, The Sun, Baltimore, nondeadline writing
  • Justin Davidson, Newsday, Melville, N.Y., criticism
  • Stephen Hunter, The Washington Post, also criticism
  • Michael J. Jacobs, Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald, editorial
  • John J. Keller, The Wall Street Journal, Laventhol prize for deadline reporting by an  individual
  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Laventhol prize for deadline reporting by a team
  • Patricia Smith, The Boston Globe, commentary/column writing*
    (Smith's award was withdrawn on June 25, 1998; see this link for an explanation.)


The 1998 ASNE contest attracted nearly 500 entries. The Jesse Laventhol Prize individual and team winners will each receive $10,000 cash prizes.  The ASNE Writing Awards winners will receive $2,500 prizes. The awards will be made on April 2, during the Society’s annual convention in Washington. The winning entries will be published in Best Newspaper Writing 1998, produced by The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, St. Petersburg, Fla.


The Jesse Laventhol Deadline Reporting Prize for work by an individual went to John J. Keller, The Wall Street Journal reporter who covers the telecommunications industry.


The Laventhol prize for deadline reporting by a team went to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for its coverage of a Ku Klux Klan rally held in downtown Pittsburgh and the counter demonstrations.


ASNE selected two prizes this year for criticism, in the rotating category of the awards. Justin Davidson was cited for his writing as Newsday’s classical music critic, along with Stephen Hunter, who reviews film for The Washington Post.


Patricia Smith is a columnist for The Boston Globe and also a poet. Her winning pieces in the commentary/column-writing category included tributes to the late Mike Royko and to the survivors of the Tuskeegee, Ala., medical experiments.


Michael J. Jacobs, editor of the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald, won an award for his editorials written during the disastrous flood that destroyed the Herald’s plant and offices and devastated much of the city.


The nondeadline writing category attracts the largest number of entries in the ASNE contest — 115 this year. Ken Fuson, The Sun, Baltimore, who won the 1998 prize, wrote about a group of high school students from a blue-collar suburban school and their efforts to produce a musical.


The ASNE judges also recognized the work of other writers as finalists:

  • Jesse Laventhol Prize for deadline news reporting/individual: Barbara Demick, The Philadelphia Inquirer; Lynne Touhy, The Hartford (Conn.) Courant.
  •  Jesse Laventhol Prize for deadline news reporting/team: The Boston Globe and the Chicago Tribune.
  •  Criticism:  Gail Caldwell, The Boston Globe.
  •  Commentary/column writing: Dale McFeatters, Scripps Howard News Service; Tracey O’Shaughnessy, Waterbury (Conn.) Republican-American; Leonard Pitts Jr., The Miami Herald.
  •  Editorial writing: Lance W. Dickie, The Seattle Times; Alyssa Haywoode, The Boston Globe; Kate Stanley, Star Tribune, Minneapolis.
  •  Nondeadline writing: N.R. (Sonny) Kleinfield, The New York Times; Irene Virag, Newsday.


The Jesse Laventhol Prizes are named in honor of a longtime Philadelphia newspaper man. They are endowed by his son, David A. Laventhol, editor-at-large for the Times Mirror Company, longtime member of ASNE and member and former chairman of the ASNE Writing Awards Board. Laventhol said he wanted to encourage excellence in a key aspect of newspaper reporting – "to recognize the best deadline work and to encourage more of it."


The ASNE Foundation  — which is supported by gifts from ASNE members, newspaper companies and foundations — funds the Writing Awards prizes. The competition is administered by the Poynter Institute.


Gregory Favre, of The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee chaired the 1998 ASNE Writing Awards Board.  Other ASNE members who participated in the judging were: Gilbert Bailon, The Dallas Morning News; Joann Byrd, Seattle Post-Intelligencer; Robert H. Giles,  Media Studies Center, New York; Tonnie L. Katz, The Orange County (Calif.) Register; William B. Ketter, The Patriot Ledger, Quincy, Mass.; Craig Klugman, The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, Ind.; Forrest M. Landon, retired member, Roanoke, Va.; David A. Laventhol, Times Mirror, Los Angeles; Carolyn Lee, The New York Times; Wanda S. Lloyd, The Greenville (S.C.) News; Ron Martin, The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution; Diane H. McFarlin, Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune; Rena M. Pederson, The Dallas Morning News; Sandra Mims Rowe, The Oregonian, Portland; Matthew V. Storin, The Boston Globe; Paul C. Tash, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times; Gil Thelen, retired member, Columbia S.C.; and Howard A. Tyner, Chicago Tribune.


Founded in 1922, ASNE is an organization of the main editors of daily newspapers in the United States and Canada.  There are currently 850 members.