The 35th annual Frank Premack Public Affairs Journalism Awards were handed out April 19, 2012 at the McNamara Alumni Center.
The winners were from newspapers and broadcasting outlets from across the state of Minnesota in categories for public affairs reporting, opinion writing and broadcasting. "In our rapidly changing media environment, public affairs reporting remains a cornerstone of our democracy," said Premack Board chair Rohan Preston. "The finalists and winners of the 35th annual Premack Awards demonstrate that there is much investigative, courageous and well-written work to celebrate."
The awards program also featured the presentation of two prestigious awards. The Graven Award, which is given each year to a member of the journalistic community whose contribution to excellence in the profession deserves merit, was presented to Dave Pyle of the Minnesota Associated Press. In 2012, after 21 years of service, Pyle stepped down as bureau chief.
The Farr Award, which is given to a member of the community who has made an exceptional contribution to public affairs journalism, was presented to Lynda McDonnell of University of St. Thomas' Project ThreeSixty. McDonnell serves as executive director of the program, which provides journalism training to high-school students, particularly of low-income and underrepresented groups.
Lastly, the evening featured a keynote address by PolitiFact founder Matt Waite. The Pulitzer Prize winner spoke of the use of data in journalism but noted not all journalism can be left to computers. "There is no algorithm for humanity," he said.
The Premack Awards are named in honor of Frank Premack (1933-1975), who began his reporting career at the Minneapolis Tribune in 1958 and quickly became well known for his aggressive pursuit of the news. He later became city editor and assistant managing editor, and was a member of the Tribune's Special Reporting Group.
The 2011 Premack Award Winners are:
Excellence in public affairs reporting: print/online (large organization)
"Notorious Landlords" by Elizabeth Mohr and MaryJo Webster, St. Paul Pioneer Press
Excellence in public affairs reporting: print/online (small organization)
"Minnesota Sex Offender Program" by Brandon Stahl, Duluth News Tribune
Excellence in public affairs reporting: broadcast/online
"Welfare Waste" by Mark Albert, Mike Maybay, Erik Altmann, Jim O'Connell and Lee Zwiefelhofer of KSTP-TV
Excellence in opinion writing (large organization)
"UCare donation raises questions" by Jill Burcum, Star Tribune
Excellence in opinion writing (small organization)
"Law would endanger teen health" by Kathy Vos, The Free Press