The Society of Professional Journalists awarded Kathy Aney, a senior reporter at the East Oregonian, with a first-place award last month in its 2008 Pacific Northwest Excellence in Journalism competition.
In addition to Aney’s recognition, Senior Reporter Phil Wright received second-place and honorable mention awards and reporter Flynn Espe received a third-place award.
The competition included news media in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. The trio competed against other journalists of daily newspapers with circulations of 25,000 or less.
Recognized under the lifestyles category, Aney’s article, “Oasis Under the Stars,” (Aug. 29, 2008) focused on the small desert town of Shaniko.
Aney brought the apparent ghost-town-in-the-making to life in an Under Eastern Oregon Skies feature. Readers were introduced to several residents who possess unwavering Shaniko spirit. Additionally, Aney outlined the town’s boom to bust history and the most recent controversy centered on a water rights issue with Robert Pamplin Jr., who had bought up a number of historic buildings a decade ago.
Wright, also a senior reporter, received second place in the crime and justice category for “Study of a Predator,” (June 22, 2008). The story was written after alleged rapist and twice-convicted sex offender David Eugene Malone died after hanging himself in the Umatilla County Jail.
Wright’s honorable mention, “This Girl Shouldn’t Have Died,” (July 20, 2008) came in the watchdog category. The story chronicled the incidences leading up to the death of Heather Williams. The 18-year-old died after she escaped from a Blue Mountain Recovery Center van and was struck by another vehicle on Interstate 84.
Espe, a former EO reporter who now works for Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts, received recognition for “Language of the Elders,” (Jan. 13, 2008). Designated in the education category, the story focused on efforts to preserve the languages of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation at Nixyaawii Community School.
“Kathy, Phil and Flynn are such strong writers who really care about their subjects, so it’s wonderful that they’ve been honored by their peers in the SPJ,” said Kathryn Brown, associate publisher of the East Oregonian.
“Kathryn Brown is absolutely right in her description of these three professionals,” said EO Managing Editor Skip Nichols. “They are respected in the community and in the profession for their passion to provide informative, entertaining and accurate stories for our readers. It is a privilege to work with them.”