Wednesday, November 19, 2008

UIS staff and alums take top honors in national competition

Several staff members at the University of Illinois at Springfield, as well as several alumni of UIS' Public Affairs Reporting program, were among the winners of the annual competition sponsored by Capitolbeat, the national organization of journalists covering state and local governments.

The awards -- honoring excellence in Statehouse reporting in print, broadcast and online media -- were presented at the organization's annual conference, held this year in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Bethany Jaeger, Statehouse bureau chief for Illinois Issues magazine and a 2004 PAR alum, took first place in the magazine columns category for her "State of the State" column, which appears in the print and online versions of the magazine. Jaeger's winning columns touched on such subjects as gun control, feuding Democrats, Cook County property taxes, and the outlook for state policy.

Jaeger also received a second place award in the single report category for magazines for her September 2007 article "Clinic in a school," which analyzed state and national policies that contribute to the demand for health care centers in high schools, yet hinder their growth.

Daniel C. Vock, a writer for stateline.org and a 2000 PAR alum, won a third place award in the same category for his Illinois Issues article on why Illinois is a friendly place for immigrants.

Sean Crawford, Statehouse bureau chief for Public Radio station WUIS, won a third place award for radio beat reporting for stories he covered ranging from the deterioration of trust at the state Capitol to more lighthearted fare such as a plan to create a special a license plate for NASCAR fans.

Amanda Vinicky, WUIS Statehouse reporter and a 2005 PAR alum, won a third place award in the radio single report category for "The Truant Legislator," which focused on Rep. Rich Bradley (D-Chicago), his chronic absences during the legislative session, and the resulting impact on his district.

Together, Crawford and Vinicky won a third place award in the radio in-depth reporting category for "Making Little Cents," a series of reports on Illinois' problems in getting a budget put together.

PAR alums Ray Long (1981) and John O'Connor (1986) were also among those honored.

Long, of the Chicago Tribune, shared a first place award in beat reporting for wire services and newspapers over 75,000 circulation.

O'Connor, of the Associated Press, received an honorable mention in the single report category for wire services and newspapers over 75,000 circulation.

Capitolbeat, formerly called the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, has nearly 300 members across the country. Illinois Issues is a not-for-profit monthly publication focusing on analysis of public policy. WUIS is listener-supported public radio for central and west central Illinois. Both Illinois Issues and WUIS are part of the Center for State Policy and Leadership at UIS.

UIS' Public Affairs Reporting program is a one-year master's degree program focusing on coverage of state government news. In addition to academic work, students serve six-month internships with newspaper, magazine, radio, television, wire service, or audio news service bureaus in the Statehouse pressroom in Springfield.

For more information, contact Dana Heupel, executive editor of Illinois Issues, at 206-6507.

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