Awards

In the last three years I have focused my attention on personal essay writing and blogging, including earning an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and the first three awards below reflect that effort. During a ten-year period as a daily journalist covering the U.S. Congress, the White House and the U.S. Supreme Court, a profession I left at the end of 2004, I received nine journalism awards. Those are listed below as well:

  • Winner, Sidney W. Vernick Award in Nonfiction, 2012: The literary journal fwriction: review selected my personal essay, “September 12th,” as its winner in its inaugural competition for the best in creative nonfiction. The essay tells the intertwined story of my coverage of the evacuation of Capitol Hill on September 11th, 2001, and my struggle in the 24 hours following the attacks with my new status as a single father.
  • Top Ten Blog for Writers, 2011-2012, Write to Done: The Artist’s Road blog was named one of the top blogs for writers by Write to Done. The longstanding, juried competition received more than 2,100 nominations that year. The Artist’s Road received the award only 14 months after its launch.
  • First Place Essay Contest Winner, Unplug & Reconnect, 2011: My personal essay “The Forest Foursome” won a contest by Unplug & Reconnect. It tells the story of a family trip to the Shenandoah in which we were off the grid–no Internet or cell phone reception–and the lessons learned from that experience.
  • First Place, Newsletters, Society of Professional Journalists, D.C. Chapter, 2004: This award from the largest chapter of SPJ was for coverage of campaign donations to the re-election campaign of George W. Bush as well as to the nine Democrats running to oppose him. Approximately 70,000 records of individual donations to the ten candidates were reviewed, looking for executives of top companies in the telecommunications, broadcast, cable, satellite and Internet industries. Data analysis was performed to see which candidates were attracting support from various industry executives, and that support was compared to the candidates’ positions and records on issues of interest to those industries. The report was among the first to note that former Vermont Governor Howard Dean was raising significant funds from small donors online, and was also among the first to predict — correctly — that Dean would opt out of the federally funded campaign finance system. The reporting also uncovered several prominent members of the media who were contributing to presidential candidates, a practice generally frowned upon in that profession.
  • First Place, Single News Story, Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Foundation, 2004: This award was given for the same series honored above.
  • First Place, Newsletters, Society of Professional Journalists, D.C. Chapter, 2002: This award was for spot-news coverage of a chaotic evacuation of Capitol Hill on the morning of September 11. The story included interviewed members of Congress and staff, U.S. Capitol police officers and D.C. police officers in painting a portrait of fear and confusion.
  • First Place, Investigative Reporting, Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Foundation, 2002: This award went to a series on the inflated reports of industry research firms predicting massive growth in Internet-related industries before the dot-com bubble burst. The series revealed that many of these companies had a financial incentive to produce rosy reports, as they were consultants and stock holders in companies hoping to make a name for themselves in the very sectors they were promoting. This series pre-dated revelations of conflicts-of-interest at Andersen consulting as well as brokerage firms such as Merrill Lynch.
  • Maxwell Media Award, Maxwell Media Foundation, 2001: This annual award goes to a single reporter who demonstrates the greatest mastery of the cable industry. The Foundation in particular noted the focus of coverage of the quest by independent Internet service providers for access to the broadband plants of cable companies, an issue widely debated on Capitol Hill and the FCC. His coverage appeared on CNET News.com, in the New York Times, and was distributed by the Associated Press.
  • Third Place, Analytical Reporting, Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Foundation, 2001: This award was for a series focusing on the campaign donations received by key members of the House and Senate Commerce committees during the 106th Congress. The series focused on the relationship between donations from various sectors of the telecom, media and Internet industries and their votes on key issues.
  • Honorable Mention, Society of Professional Journalists, D.C. Chapter, 1999: This award reflected ongoing reporting that led to a new law. The U.S. Congress learned through this reporter’s investigative series (see below) that executives of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) were accepting illegal bonuses to evade a salary cap imposed on them. When Congress investigated, public broadcasting executives said the salary cap prevented them from recruiting top talent in competition with commercial broadcasters. As a result, Congress passed a law removing the salary cap.
  • First Place, Investigative Reporting, Newsletter Publishers Foundation, 1998: This award was for the initial revelation of illegal 5- and 6-figure bonuses pocketed by PBS and CPB executives, which launched a congressional investigation (see above).
  • Honorable Mention, Investigative Reporting, Newsletter Publishers Foundation, 1998: This award went to an investigation of mismanagement by CPB of its only programming project, the Ready-to-Learn children’s project. The investigation discovered that not only were funds being spent with no accountability, but that CPB after receiving an accidental double appropriation by Congress refused to give the money back. After the story broke, CPB gave back the extra funds and agreed to let PBS take over the program. This was the first time one reporter had won twice in the Newsletter Publishers Foundation investigative reporting category in the same year.

4 Responses to “Awards”

  1. I’ve just nominated you for the Sunshine Award, Patrick – for a blog that ‘positively and creatively inspires others’ http://jenalexanderbooks.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/a-third-award-for-the-house-of-dreams/

  2. Congratulations Patrick, it’s been a while since I popped by (I’ve been involved in a major creative project over the past two years — setting up a nonprofit association for self-publishing writers) and thrilling to see how you blog — and you, my friend! — have developed. Superb example of creative living in action.

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