Watchdog.org takes home six awards at Virginia Press Association’s conference
Published: April 7th, 2014
Alexandria, Va. — Two reporters from Watchdog.org’s Virginia Bureau won six awards – including two for first place – in the 2013 News/Editorial and Advertising Contest for the Virginia Press Association (VPA) on Saturday.
Watchdog reporter Katie Watson earned a “Best in Show” for her series on the lack of government transparency surrounding the Gov. Bob McDonnell scandal.
“Our Virginia Bureau does phenomenal work every day,” said Will Swaim, editor of Watchdog.org. “The Virginia Press Association is very prestigious, and it’s encouraging to see our reporters recognized for their efforts.”
In awarding her “Best in Show,” a judge commended Watson’s “good, solid writing on a story with national implications.”
“One of the things that set this entry apart is that the writer managed to tell each episode of the story in few enough words that readers could stay engaged until the end,” the judge concluded. “Just because there is unlimited online space does not mean a reporter should try to fill it all. The writing is tight, the reporting thorough.”
Watson also received first place in “General News Writing” for her series of stories on the scandal over Gov. McDonnell’s lack of transparency as he billed taxpayers for his legal fees. Watson also won first place in “Business and Financial Writing” for stories on state pension and budget woes, and won second place in “Government Writing.”
“Transparency for the taxpaying public is what my work and our work at Watchdog.org is all about,” said Watson. “Receiving these awards from the Virginia Press Association is definitely an honor, but so is getting to report on government waste, fraud and abuse—what’s wrong with the status quo—for Virginians every single day.”
Kenric Ward, Watchdog.org’s Virginia Bureau Chief, received second place in the “Public Safety” category for his extensive investigations into government involvement in the drone industry. He also received third place in the “Government” category.
“It’s an honor to be recognized for my investigative work,” said Ward. “It’s important that the public hear these stories, as well as the rest of the journalism community. Hopefully this award will bring attention to them.”
Watchdog.org competed in the online journalism division. The awards were announced and given out at the VPA’s annual conference and awards ceremony.
“I’m very proud of Kenric and Katie, and I couldn’t be happier that the Virginia Press Association is recognizing their work,” said Jason Stverak, president of the Franklin Center. “Watchdog.org’s Virginia Bureau is successfully providing deep investigative journalism, fighting for transparency, and holding government officials accountable.”
The VPA, which was incorporated by the Virginia General Assembly in 1881, is the premier media association for journalists in the Old Dominion. The winners of the contest are chosen by journalists from media associations in other states.
Note: The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity is a leader in non-profit journalism. It was founded in 2009 to address falling standards in the media as well as a steep falloff in reporting on state government and provides professional training and assistance with a mission of exposing waste, fraud, and abuse in government. Oklahoma Watchdog and CapitolBeatOK are projects of the Franklin Center.