IBJ takes home awards in annual journalism competition

IBJ won first place awards for spot news and editorial writing Friday in the 2016 Best in Indiana contest hosted by the Indiana Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Reporters Jared Council and Scott Olson won for stories they reported the day that Salesforce announced that it would add 800 jobs in Indianapolis, move into what was then Chase Tower and take over naming rights for the building.

The judges said the reporters delivered “exactly what you'd expect from solid spot news coverage—go beyond reporting the news to explain why it matters and to whom.”

IBJ competes in a category for the state’s largest print and online news publications.

Editor Greg Andrews won for an editorial headlined “High court sides with secrecy,” which expressed dismay after the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that Indiana lawmakers can continue withholding from the public their correspondence with lobbying groups and businesses.

“I can't think of a more important value to advocate for than government transparency,” a judge wrote about Andrews’ editorial. “The value of what it could accomplish represents the highest aspirations of journalism.”

Managing Editor Lesley Weidenbener won second place in the same category for an editorial headlined “Absurd vaping law needs do over,” which followed IBJ’s extensive coverage of a law that put a private security firm in charge of deciding which companies could manufacturing e-liquids for sale in Indiana. The Legislature voted last week to change that law.

IBJ reporter Lou Harry won second place in arts and entertainment writing for stories that included his Lou’s Views columns about the arts in central Indiana.

Reporter Susan Orr and former Creative Director Kristen Hambridge won second place for their work on a full-page graphic about the Indiana Pacers' Bikeshare program.

In addition, John Russell won third place in the business or consumer affairs reporting category for work he did to expose problems with a proposal to develop a medical complex at the Indianapolis International Airport. Russell’s work helped lead the airport authority to cancel the project.

Reporter Hayleigh Colombo won third place in the election and campaign coverage category for stories that included an analysis of former Gov. Mike Pence’s fundraising efforts.

Indiana Lawyer reporter Dave Stafford won two awards. He received second place in the government reporting category for publications with circulations less than 30,000. He was honored for coverage of payments the state made to the ACLU for legal battles the organization won against it. Stafford also won second place in the criminal justice reporting category.

Associated Press Statehouse reporter Brian Slodysko was selected as the Indiana Journalist of the Year for his coverage of elections, including stories about the misuse of campaign money by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marlin Stutzman.

Mark Alesia, Tim Evans and Marisa Kwiatkowski of The Indianapolis Star won the Story of the Year award for their investigation into the failure of Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics over many years to alert law enforcement about alleged sexual abuse by coaches.

Charlotte Tuggle from Purdue University was named Student Journalist of the Year.

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