Journalist of Year, SPJ honors for News staffers

The Detroit News

The Detroit News won first place for “Spot or Breaking News” and 25 staffers were honored with 32 awards Wednesday at an annual awards ceremony of the Detroit chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Detroit News Staff Writer Karen Bouffard and former News staffer Joel Kurth both received an award for Journalist of the Year for their two-day report, “Instrumental Risk,” which uncovered the decade-long problems with instrument sterilization at the Detroit Medical Center. The report prompted state and federal investigations as well as reforms.

The award follows Bouffard and Kurth being named Michigan Journalist of the Year by the Michigan Press Association Foundation in January.

The Detroit News swept the headline writing and photography categories Wednesday, capturing all of the first-, second- and third-place categories in its class.

Earning first-place honors

A man wails after three men were shot and killed in what police described as a drug house in the 6500 block of Brace in Detroit on June 6.

The Detroit News Staff for “On verge of Flint Legionnaires’ warning, state stayed silent” in the spot, breaking news category, auto critic Henry Payne in the car review category; and Staff Writer George Hunter and Digital Innovation Director Tom Gromak for “Davontae Sanford’s road to freedom” in the general news category.

In the investigative reporting category, Bouffard and Kurth received first place for “Dirty, missing instruments plague DMC surgeries.”

Former copy editor Kathy Niezurawski won first place in the headline writing category.

The Detroit Lions decided to have cheerleaders for the first time this season. The 28 dancers gave a hair-raising performance during the Dec. 11 game at Ford Field vs. the Chicago Bears.

Photographer Daniel Mears won first place for “Triple tragedy” in the news photography category and for “Frightfully cheerful” in the features photography category. Photographer David Guralnick won first place for “Chasing the puck” in the “Sports photography, newspaper-only category.”

The Detroit Red Wings made the playoffs for 25th straight season, and once again met the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round. Detroit left wing Justin Abdelkader and Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman chase after the puck in the third period of Game 4. The Lightning eliminated the Red Wings, four games to one.

Design director James Hollar and senior design editor Antone Amye won first place in the “Page One Design, newspapers-only category.” Hollar also won first place for “Sports page design, newspapers only.” In the “Cover Design” category, Antone Amye won first place. Page designer Jean Johnson won first place in the “Magazine spread design” category.

Former multimedia columnist Donna Terek won first place for "Cathedral of St. Anthony: a church reborn" in the blogging category.

Taking second place

Staff Writer Christine MacDonald earned second place for “Debt woes hit home” in the “Consumer/ watchdog reporting category”; Staff Writers Kurth, Chad Livengood, Jonathan Oosting won for “Presidential recount in Michigan” in the “Localization of national story category.” Business Columnist and Associate Business Editor Daniel Howes took second place in the “General column category.” In the “Sports reporting category,” John Niyo won second place for “Olympic champ dives into depression advocacy.”

Guralnick won three second place awards for: “Road rage weapons” in the “News photography category”; for “Playing hooky” in the “Feature photography category”; and “Victory angel” in “Sports photography, newspapers only.”

Copy editor Steve Wilkinson took second place in the headline writing category; Johnson earned second place in the “Page One design, newspapers only category”; page designer Diana McNary in the magazine spread design category.

Third place honors

Staff Writer Francis X. Donnelly won third place for “Baseball’s back in Muskegon Hts.“ in the feature story category; MacDonald for Wayne County Home Foreclosures in the consumer/watchdog reporting category; MacDonald and Charlie Ramirez for “Life spans for Metro Detroit’s poor among shortest in nation” in localization of national story category.

John Niyo took third place in the sports column category, copy editor Keith Roberts in the headline writing category; photographer Clarence Tabb Jr. for “Last ride” in the news photography and photographer Robin Buckson for “Embracing peace” in the feature photography category.

In the sports photography, newspapers only category David Guralnick took third place for “Harbaugh playtime.” Amye took third place in the magazine spread design category.

Honorable mentions

Staff Writer Robert Snell for “Crackdown on second-home tax breaks” in the general news category and “Rizzo empire grows after donations” in the consumer/watchdog reporting category. Donnelly received an honorable mention for “Being Santa is no flight of fancy” in the feature story category.

Bob Wojnowski received an honorable mention in the sports column category, Angelique S. Chengelis for “Chad’s mom hangs tough” in the sports reporting category, Andreas Supanich in the headline writing category and Kim Storeygard in sports page design, newspapers only.

Honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards are: Carmen Harlan, a longtime news anchor for WDIV-TV who retired in 2016 after working for the station for 38 years. Jack Lessenberry, whose nearly 40-year career includes local, regional and national publications. He is also head of the journalism faculty at Wayne State University.

Young journalist of the year resulted in a tie with the winners Katrease Stafford of the Detroit Free Press and Kate Wells of Michigan Radio.