A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

Odds & Ends

By Quill

New York Times wins record 7 Pulitzers

Many of the 2002 Pulitzer Prizes, which were announced by Columbia University April 9, focused on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and their aftermath.

The New York Times won a record seven prizes, including one in the public service category for “A Nation Challenged,” a special section that ran in the months following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The paper also received a prize in explanatory reporting for its stories, before and after the Sept. 11 attacks, that profiled the global terrorism network and the threats it posed. In addition, The Times won awards for beat reporting, international reporting, commentary, breaking news photography and feature photography.

The Washington Post won two awards, one for national reporting for its coverage of America’s war on terrorism and another for a series on the District of Columbia’s child welfare system.

The Wall Street Journal won a prize for breaking news for its reporting of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Los Angeles Times won two prizes, one for feature writing and the second for editorial writing.

Long Island’s Newsday won the award for criticism, and The Christian Science Monitor won the prize for editorial cartooning.

Although considered a likely candidate for a Pulitzer Prize, a much-lauded series on a cancer center by The Seattle Times did not win an award. The series had drawn unusual criticism from a Wall Street Journal editor shortly before the prizes were announced. The series was a finalist in the investigative reporting category but was passed over for a Pulitzer.

“On the merits, in competition with the other entries, The Seattle Times simply lost out,” said Seymour Topping, administrator of the prizes and a Pulitzer board member.

He declined to address the controversy involving the two newspapers, but said complaints from both the Journal and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center did not cost The Times the prize, The Associated Press reported.

The investigative reporting award was given to The Washington Post for an entry that originally was nominated in the public service category but was moved to investigative by the board, Topping said.

‘Nightline’ to remain in current time slot

ABC and Ted Koppel have reached an agreement that ensures that his late-night news program, “Nightline,” will remain in its 11:35 p.m. slot for at least two years, people close to the talks said in early April.

The deal patches up, at least for now, the strained relations between Koppel and his network, which had threatened the future of “Nightline” and Koppel’s career at ABC News, The New York Times reported.

“Nightline’s” future was placed in doubt earlier this year when ABC tried to lure David Letterman away from CBS to start a new late-night talk show in the time period that Koppel has held for 22 years.

Although the agreement does not appear to cover the entirety of Koppel’s latest contract – which has nearly four years remaining – Koppel emphasized that he and his top producers, Tom Bettag and Leroy Sievers, were pleased.

When ABC officials were pursuing Letterman, one executive said that “Nightline” no longer seemed relevant in late night, especially at a time when news is readily available all day on cable television and on the Internet.

However, in a statement in early April, Disney president Robert A. Iger said, “We want to renew and reaffirm our support for ‘Nightline.’

“We look forward to working with ABC News to make a strong program even stronger in the coming years,” he added.

In a written statement, Koppel said, “For our part, my colleagues and I renew our commitment to making ‘Nightline’ the best news program it can possibly be.”

CBS finds new affiliate in Jacksonville

After more than 50 years, CBS and WJXT in Jacksonville, Fla., have decided to go their separate ways.

Channel 4’s parent company, Post-Newsweek Stations, and the CBS television network were unable to come to a contract agreement, WJXT News 4 reported.

PNS President Alan Frank told the staff that this change gives Channel 4 the chance to dramatically expand its local presence, add staff and serve Jacksonville area viewers even more effectively. The station plans to nearly double its local news coverage, most notably with all-local news programming in the mornings and a prime-time newscast.

Meanwhile, WTEV, Clear Channel’s UPN affiliate in Jacksonville, Fla., is expected to become a CBS affiliate in July. With the change in affiliation, CBS would be moving from the highest-rated station in the market to the third-ranked, according to Mediaweek.

Nielsen figures from the February sweeps indicate that WJXT had an 8.6 overall rating, compared to a 2.1 rating for WTEV.

In addition to its TV duopoly, Clear Channel also owns seven radio stations in the market, has joint sales agreements with another four radio stations, and owns significant outdoor assets, all managed under one roof.

Supreme Court rejects Leggett’s appeal

Vanessa Leggett, a novice crime writer who spent more than five months in jail for refusing to turn over research notes about a Houston murder, lost a Supreme Court appeal April 15.

In turning down Leggett’s request, the Court did not comment, which is common practice. Leggett had asked the Court to use her case to give writers and reporters more rights to protect the confidentiality of their sources.

Leggett was jailed longer than any U.S. writer who has used the First Amendment to reject a grand jury subpoena, The Associated Press reported.

She was released in January, a few weeks after the appeal was filed.

While the government argued that the release made her case irrelevant, Leggett’s lawyer replied that she still faces the threat of a new government subpoena for her interviews and other notes.

“Courts have repeatedly acknowledged the chilling effect and resulting self-censorship that discovery of a journalist’s unpublished information can have on the gathering and reporting of news,” her lawyer, Michael DeGuerin, wrote in urging the court to hear her appeal.

Leggett is on the government witness list for the upcoming federal trial of Robert Angleton, a former millionaire bookie and prominent Houston man accused of ordering the killing of his socialite wife.

Angleton’s brother, Roger, also was charged but committed suicide in jail. He left a note confessing to shooting his sister-in-law and framing his brother to extort money from him, according to the AP.

Leggett, who is an English teacher as well as a novice crime writer, won the prestigious PEN/Newman’s Own First Amendment Award in April.

She also has sold Crown Publishing the right to publish her planned book about the crime, her experience and the prosecutors’ handling of the case, The New York Times reported.

Lack of training is top complaint

A lack of on-the-job training is the major complaint of working journalists, according to a survey released in Washington in April by the Council of Presidents of National Journalism Organizations.

Princeton Survey Research Associates conducted the survey of 2,000 journalists and news executives from all news media and found that a third of the journalists are dissatisfied with opportunities for training and professional development.

Fewer of the journalists were unhappy with salary or promotion opportunities, Editor & Publisher reported.

The news executives said that more training is needed, and half said they don’t get any training at all.

Eighty percent of the news executives cited their budgets as the major obstacle to offering more training, while two thirds said there isn’t enough time to offer training.

Judges allow cameras in murder cases

A California judge has agreed to allow television coverage of the trial of a man accused of kidnapping and killing 7-year-old Danielle van Dam, and the New Hampshire Supreme Court has issued an emergency order allowing cameras and tape recorders in court for the proceedings in the murder of two Dartmouth College professors.

In the van Dam case, California Superior Court Judge William Mudd barred cameras from a May 6 pretrial hearing on several defense motions, however, saying that allowing cameras in the court could prejudice potential jurors in the trial of David Westerfield, 50. He has been charged with kidnapping, murder and possession of child pornography and has pleaded innocent.

Mudd also extended a gag order in April and rejected a media request to unseal search warrants.

The San Diego chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, San Diego Union-Tribune and other news organizations have sought the release of police documents used to obtain search warrants of Westerfield’s home and vehicles.

In New Hampshire, the state Supreme Court ordered Grafton County Superior Court Judge Peter Smith to permit recording devices at the hearing in the case of the murders of Half and Suzanne Zantop. He earlier had banned them.

The Zantops were slain Jan. 27, 2001, in their home a few miles from the Dartmouth campus.

Several media outlets, including WBZ-TV and WBZ Radio, WMUR-TV, The Boston Globe, Courtroom Television Network and Association of Broadcasters, had filed a petition to allow recording devices in the courtroom.

Court finds TV ‘eight voices rule’ arbitrary

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has remanded the Federal Communications Commission’s “eight voices rule” back to the FCC for reconsideration and justification.

The eight voices test, which was established in August 1999, limits TV station owners from operating duopolies and local marketing agreements in markets where there are less than eight voices, according to Mediaweek.

That rule was challenged by Sinclair Broadcast Group, which was told by the FCC it could not operate local marketing agreements in several cities, The New York Times reported.

The court found in April that the eight voices rule was “arbitrary and capricious” as well as inconsistent with the radio-TV cross-ownership rule. It also found that the eight voices rule was not specific as to how other media might be counted as “voices.”

The FCC rule allows a company to own two television stations in a local broadcast market only if there are at least seven other companies owning stations in that market. In practice that has limited two-station ownership to a few dozen of the largest metropolitan areas.

The April ruling was the latest in a recent series of legal and regulatory moves that have weakened regulations limiting the size of media companies, according to The Times. Media experts said the ruling could allow additional acquisition of local television stations by media giants including the News Corporation and Viacom, as well as by smaller station-owning companies like the Sinclair Broadcast Group.

In February, the same court struck down FCC rules that banned TV station and cable cross-ownership in the same market. The court also asked the Commission to provide better justification for the TV national ownership cap, which limits TV companies from owning stations reaching more than 35 percent of U.S. households.