Well News Nets Top Honors at DCSPJ Dinner

June 14, 2023 by Dan McCue
Well News Nets Top Honors at DCSPJ Dinner

WASHINGTON — The Well News took top honors in two categories in the 2023 Dateline Awards presented by the Washington, D.C., pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

The event, the chapter’s annual awards dinner and hall of fame induction ceremony, was held at the National Press Club Tuesday night.

The Well News was honored with a first place award for breaking news coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2022 decision overturning federal abortion protections for women (Abortion Ruling a Galvanizing Moment in American Life) and with a first place award for feature writing (When Swing was King at the Embassy).

The Dateline Awards are bestowed by the D.C. chapter to honor the best in local journalism throughout Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland. 

Over the course of Tuesday evening, finalists and winners in 18 categories over eight divisions were announced, and organizers said the contest received a record number of entries this year.

A full list of the winners and finalists can be found here.

The evening’s top honor, the Robert D.G. Lewis Watchdog Award, was presented to a collaborative team of NBC News, The Washington Post, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism. 

The group’s yearlong investigation uncovered the ongoing use of trafficked workers to staff military bases overseas. Their reporting found that contracting companies previously caught and reported to have used trafficked workers had since received billions in new government contracts.

The stories appeared domestically in The Washington Post, on the NBC News digital news site and on NBC Nightly News. ARIJ translated stories that ran in eight outlets across the Middle East. 

In addition to the quality of the work, the reporting also produced results: The video segment has since been incorporated into training for government contracting officers, and the stories helped pass a Senate bill designed to end trafficking in government contracts.

In addition the U.S. State Department has opened an investigation into labor contracting at Middle Eastern military bases.

The Watchdog Award, and the $1,000 prize that accompanies it, is presented each year to a journalist or group in any award classification whose entry best exemplifies journalism aimed at protecting the public from abuses by those who would betray the public trust.

The evening also saw the induction into the Hall of Fame of three long-time journalists in the D.C. metropolitan area market. 

The new inductees were Jonathan D. Salant, who became the assistant managing editor for politics at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this year after a long career with the New Jersey Star-Ledger, Bloomberg News, the Associated Press and other outlets.

He now covers the White House, Congress, politics and federal agencies as they affect western Pennsylvania.

The second inductee was April Ryan, senior White House correspondent, bureau chief for TheGrio and a political analyst for MSNBC.

Ryan is the longest-serving Black female White House correspondent and the only Black female covering urban issues from the White House — a position she’s held since the Clinton administration.

The third inductee was Sam Ford, D.C. Bureau Chief at WJLA-TV in Washington, an ABC affiliate and one of two flagship stations of the Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Ford has worked at the station for 36 years, having begun his career initially in radio, in Kansas and Minnesota. Before arriving in the nation’s capital, Ford worked as a correspondent at CBS News bureaus in New York and Atlanta.

“Each year we gather to honor journalists, both for a lifetime of achievement and for current, ground-breaking work,” said Denise Dunbar, president of the D.C. Pro Chapter of SPJ, in a written statement. 

“Last night, we inducted three worthy members into our D.C. Pro chapter Hall of Fame and presented another with our distinguished service award,” she continued. “Future winners of those awards were undoubtedly in the audience, and among those who won or were finalists for our Dateline Awards. 

“The scope of outstanding journalism that takes place each year in the D.C. metro area is astonishing, and our annual SPJ chapter dinner is a wonderful way to acknowledge that work,” Dunbar said.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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