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Published: Saturday, 7/29/2006

Blade Coingate coverage earns another national award

NEW YORK - The Blade has won another national award for its coverage of Ohio's rare-coin scandal.

The Blade will receive the Public Service award for medium-size newspapers from the Associated Press Managing Editors association at the group's annual conference in New Orleans.

APME, an association of editors at 1,500 AP member newspapers in the United States and the Canadian Press in Canada, recognizes journalism excellence with annual awards. This year's winners were selected during a meeting of the association's board of directors that concluded Monday in New York.

The awards will be presented during the APME conference Oct. 25-28.

The Blade's reporting team, supervised by special projects editor Dave Murray, was recognized for "stories showing gross mismanagement" of the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation's failed $50 million rare-coin venture with former Toledo-area coin dealer and Republican fund-raiser Tom Noe. Blade Columbus bureau chief James Drew and staff writers Mike Wilkinson, Steve Eder, Christopher D. Kirkpatrick, Joshua Boak, and Jim Tankersley were the reporters on the year-long scandal.

Dubbed "Coingate" by some, the scandal rocked the state and its government, resulting in sweeping changes in the workers' comp bureau and the criminal conviction of Gov. Bob Taft on ethics charges.

In addition, Noe was indicted on 53 state felony counts, accusing him of laundering money and stealing millions from the coin fund. In a separate case, Noe was convicted in federal court of three counts of illegally funneling more than $45,000 to President Bush's re-election campaign.

Noe is awaiting sentencing on the federal convictions, and the trial on the state charges is set for October.

The Blade was recognized earlier this year with two other prestigious journalism awards for its Coingate coverage: top honors in the National Headliner Awards and the Gerald Loeb Award for business reporting. The newspaper also was a finalist in the Pulitzer Prize Public Service category.

Other APME public service winners were:

w●(Large-circulation papers) The Los Angeles Times for an investigation exposing horrific abuses by professional conservators of the elderly they are hired to protect.

w●(Small-circulation papers) The Merced (Calif.) Sun-Star for dogged pursuit of a district attorney accused of committing numerous abuses.

The Times-Picayune of New Orleans and The Sun Herald of south Mississippi will receive President's Awards for Public Service for continuing to publish and provide essential information to their communities as they dealt with the ravages of Hurricane Katrina.



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