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Published: 10/7/2005

Blade reporters, others receive Touchstone Awards

BY KARAMAGI RUJUMBA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A team of Blade reporters, Toledo philanthropist Richard Ransom, and other local journalists were honored last night with Touchstone Awards from the Press Club of Toledo.

Mike Wilkinson, James Drew, Christopher Kirkpatrick, and Steve Eder received an Excellence in Journalism award in the print category for "Crisis at the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation," an ongoing series and investigation into questionable investment policies by the state and Ohio politicians colored by accusations of political patronage.

"A lot of people doubted us when we started," Mr. Wilkinson said, noting that the story, which continues, involves a team of other Blade editors, copy editors, and managers. He thanked Blade Publisher and Editor and Chief John Robinson Block for the steadfast dedication to the story and noted that Blade special projects editor Dave Murray and reporters Gary Pakulski and Joshua Boak have worked tirelessly on the story.

The Blade investigation that started with a tip has led to numerous articles about Tom Noe, a prominent Republican and businessman who received a contract from the Bureau of Workers' Compensation to invest $50 million of the state's money in a rare-coin venture. "It is an amazing story, and I applaud my managers for supporting us all the way," Mr. Kirkpatrick said.

Michael Brooks, a reporter at the Toledo City Paper, also received an Excellence in Journalism award in print for "Productivity at Any Cost," which examined the work environment at Toledo's Jeep plant shortly after the fatal shooting at the factory early this year. Mr. Brooks thanked the plant workers and their families who "let me tell their story."

Steve Hartman, a CBS news correspondent and a Toledo native, was the keynote speaker of the night. He was presented with a glass insignia of the City of Toledo by Mayor Jack Ford. Mr. Hartman, who hosted a news feature titled "Everybody Has a Story" for CBS for the last seven years, recalled his experiences growing up in Toledo and said he was inspired to become a journalist because "we all have a story."

Sarah Oehler, a WTVG-Channel 13 reporter received the Excellence in Journalism award in electronic media for the "Matthew Drake Story," in which she profiled an Army specialist from Sylvania who was wounded in action in Iraq last October.

"This story was about the human spirit," she said, noting that she was particularly impressed by the community response "to step in where the military could not" in helping the Drake family deal with the recovery and healing of their wounded son.

The Fox Toledo News Team received the other Excellence in Journalism award in electronic media for their coverage of the shooting at the Toledo Jeep assembly plant.

Other winners included Diane Larson, WTVG-Channel 13 news anchor, and Richard Knecht, a professor of journalism at the University of Toledo, who received Golden Touchstones, awards for lifetime achievement in journalism.

Matt Zapotosky and Kara Hull both received the Excellence in Journalism award in the student category.

Contact Karamagi Rujumba at:

krujumba@theblade.com or

419-724-6064.



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