Blade journalists captured five awards, including four first places, at the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists convention yesterday in Columbus.
As a publication with more than 100,000 circulation, The Blade competes with the Akron Beacon Journal, Cincinnati Enquirer, (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, Columbus Dispatch, and Dayton Daily News.
Tom Henry took first place in the Best Coverage of the Environment category for “A Buried Web of Perils,'' which examined the dangers of underground gas pipelines. This is the second year that Mr. Henry has won the award.
“Poorly kept underground gas pipelines rupture roughly once a day, according to this report, which humanizes the tragedy through the deaths of children and others who fall victim to this deteriorating network of pipes. Strong reporting,'' the judges wrote.
Blade staffers Joe Mahr, Robin Erb, Jack Baessler, Christina Hall, Mark Reiter, Jane Schmucker, Rebekah Scott, Fritz Wenzel, Mike Wilkinson, Steve Murphy, Kim Bates, David Patch, Tom Troy, Rachel Zinn, Allan Detrich, Don Simmons, Jennifer Feehan, Jenni Laidman, and Mary-Beth McLaughlin captured first place for Best Deadline Reporting for “Killer Twisters Strike.” In November, deadly tornadoes swept across northwest Ohio, killing five people, flattening homes, and leaving hundreds of people homeless.
“Shows that good, tight writing can be done on deadline,” the judges wrote. “The lead is well-crafted and gives the reader the complete picture of what happened in one succinct paragraph.”
Chris Borrelli took first place for Best Critic in Ohio. The six judges praised his work: “The writer ably skewers the latest trends in movies and pop culture.”
Michael D. Sallah, The Blade's National Affairs Writer, tied for first place in the Best Personality Profile category for “The Secret Life of O.J.,'' a rare look at O.J. Simpson's troubled life since moving to South Florida. The judges praised the reporter's ability to obtain never-before released FBI documents that “paint a vastly different picture of O.J.'s life in Miami.”
Ms. Laidman captured second place in the Best Medical/Science Reporting category for “Journey of Hope.” The judges wrote: “A compelling series that showed the drama of two women dealing with cancer and their search for hope. Nice descriptions and clear writing made the stories lively and touching.”
The Ohio SPJ Awards competition honors print and broadcast journalists in Ohio and bordering states.
About 800 journalists and more than 100 media organizations entered this year's competition with stories, pages, and programs produced in 2002.