‘Coaches Who Prey’ Wins 2003 Education Reporting Award

Published June 1, 2004

At an awards ceremony in San Francisco on April 17, Christine Willmsen and Maureen O’Hagan of the Seattle Times were presented with the Fred M. Hechinger Grand Prize for Distinguished Education Reporting by the Education Writers Association (EWA), the national professional association of education reporters and writers. Willmsen and O’Hagan won the award for their account of “Coaches Who Prey: The Abuse of Girls and the System That Allows it,” a series that looked at how coaches got away with sexually abusing their female athletes.

“A stunning bravura display of investigative reporting, a thorough and engrossing read, and the kind of story that changes the way people look at things,” the judges said of Willmsen and O’Hagen’s work. “The series demonstrated the finest qualities of investigative reporting. As shocking as the abuse of the female athletes was, it was equally distressing to read about how the problem was covered up–by school boards, coaches, and even the educators’ union.”

The other finalists were Dan Golden of the Wall Street Journal, Matt Bach of the Flint Journal, and Doug Most of Boston Magazine. Recent winners of the Hechinger Grand Prize include Eric Eyre and Scott Finn, Charleston Gazette; Patrick Healy, Boston Globe; Ken Weiss, Los Angeles Times; and Tim Simmons, Raleigh News & Observer.

EWA hosts a National Seminar for education reporters each year and combines the event with the presentation of national awards for best reporting in a range of categories: newspapers, magazines, special-interest publications, television, and radio.

A full list of winners is provided below.

1. Newspapers Under 100,000 Circulation
A. Breaking or Hard News
First Prize: Josh Funk and Julie Mah, Wichita Eagle, “BOE Settlement Hidden”
Second Prize: David Hunn, Bakersfield Californian, “Parents Demand Novel Be Banned”
Special Citations: Dorie Turner, Chattanooga Times Free Press, “The Shumaker Scandal”
Ben Evans, Jim Shamp, Angela D. Forest, Christopher Kirkpatrick, Mark Schultz, Eric Ferreri, Herald-Sun (N.C.), “NCCU Mold”

B. Feature, News Feature or Issue Package
First Prize: Eric Alan Barton, New Times Broward/Palm Beach, “Jeb’s Boy”
Second Prize: Jo Ciavaglia, Bucks County Courier Times (Pa.), “Building a New World”
Special Citations: Charles Adamson, Bakersfield Californian, “Special Education”
Erin Walsh, North County Times (Ca.), “Educational Crossroads: The Small School with the Big Problem”

C. Series or Group of Articles
First Prize: Challen Stephens, Huntsville Times, “Separate Again”
Second Prize: David Hunn, Bakersfield Californian, “Culture of Truancy”
Special Citation: Eric Ferreri, Kim Sweet, Angela D. Forest, Herald-Sun (N.C.), “The Graying of the Gown”

D. Investigative Reporting
First Prize: Karen Ayres, Times of Trenton, “Most NJ School Buses Fail Inspection”
Second Prize (tie): Molly Walsh, Burlington Free Press, “Breach of Trust”
Matt Bach, Flint Journal, “Frequent Flier”
Special Citation: Mike Fitzgerald, Belleville News-Democrat (Ill.), “Illicit Purchasing of Testing Materials”

E. Opinion
First Prize: David Awbrey, Burlington Free Press, “Tax Revolt”
Second Prize: Chuck Strouse, New Times Broward/Palm Beach, “Steal from the Kiddies”

2. Newspapers Over 100,000 Circulation
A. Breaking or Hard News
First Prize: June Kronholz, Robert Tomsho, Daniel Golden, Robert S. Greenberger, Sholnn Freeman, Matt Murray, Charles Forelle, Wall Street Journal, “Race Matters”
Second Prize: Dana Tofig, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “No Child Left Behind”
Special Citation: Norman Draper, Star Tribune, “Superintendent Pay”

B. Feature, News Feature or Issue Package
First Prize: Christopher Shea, Kate Zernike, Greg Winter, Jane Gross, James Schembari, New York Times Education Life, “Sticker Shock”
Second Prize: Michael Winerip, New York Times Education Life, “How to Win a Rhodes”
Special Citation: Bill Schackner, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “May the Course Be with You”

C. Series or Group of Articles
First Prize: Daniel Golden, Wall Street Journal, “White Affirmative Action”
Second Prize: Dale Mezzacappa, Susan Snyder, Martha Woodall, Toni Callas, Kellie Patrick, Dan Hardy, Connie Langland, Alletta Emeno, Philadelphia Inquirer, “No Child Left Behind”
Special Citation: Aimee Edmondson, Ruma Banerji, Sherri Drake, Wayne Risher, Commercial Appeal, “Stress Tests: Teacher Survey”

D. Investigative Reporting
First Prize: Christine Willmsen, Maureen O’Hagan, Seattle Times, “Coaches Who Prey: The Abuse of Girls and the System That Allows it”
Second Prize: Kimberly Miller, S.V. Date, Palm Beach Post, “Florida School Vouchers: A Lack of Accountability”
Special Citations: Debbie Cenziper, Jason Grotto, Miami Herald, “Crumbling Schools”
Aileen Dodd, David Milliron, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Gwinnett County, Ga., School Discipline Under-Reporting”

E. Opinion
First Prize: Geri Throne, Orlando Sentinel, “Voucher Voodoo”
Second Prize: Joe Copeland, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “Road to Mediocrity”
Special Citations: Linda Fandel, Des Moines Register, “No Child Left Behind”
Louis Freedberg, San Francisco Chronicle, “Reclaiming Childhood”

3. Beat Reporting–Small Media or Market
First Prize: Matt Bach, Flint Journal
Second Prize: Julianne Basinger, Chronicle of Higher Education
Special Citation: Jeffrey Amy, Mobile Register

4. Beat Reporting–Large Media or Market
First Prize: Jonathan Rockoff, Baltimore Sun
Second Prize: Matthew Pinzur, Miami Herald
Special Citations: Robert Frahm, Hartford Courant
David McKay Wilson, Journal News

5. Magazines–National Circulation
Special Citation: John Cloud, Time Magazine, “Inside the New SAT”

6. Magazines–Regional or Local Circulation
First Prize: Doug Most, Boston Magazine, “Teachers’ Dirty Looks”
Second Prize: Marc Fisher, Washington Post Magazine, “Pass/Fail”
Special Citation: Tyler Currie, Washington Post Magazine, “Reaching Rommel”

7. Special Interest, Institutional and Trade Publications
First Prize: Kevin Bushweller, Linda Jacobson, Robert Johnson, Education Week, “Nation at Risk: The Next Generation”
Second Prize: Jeffrey Selingo, Chronicle of Higher Education, “The Money Crunch: The Changing Relationship Between States and Public Higher Education”
Special Citations: Jeff Archer, Education Week, “Agent of Change”
Samantha Stainburn, Teacher Magazine, “What’s So Funny?”

8. Television–Hard News and Investigative
First Prize: Tisha Thompson, WMAR-TV, “Filthy Schools”
Second Prize: Jeff Hirsh, WKRC-TV, “S-T-R-S Investigation”

9. Television–Documentary and Feature
First Prize: John Merrow, John D. Tulenko, Learning Matters, Inc., “Public Schools, Inc.”
Second Prize: Jeff Hirsh, WKRC-TV, “Learning the Language”

10. Radio
First Prize: Amy Tardif, WGCU Public Media, “Summer Reading Help”
Second Prize: Stacey Farb, KNRC AM 1150, “Denver School of the Arts”
Special Citation: Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio, “A Lesson on Learning: Behind No Child Left Behind”

For more information …

Further information about the Education Writers Association, including a full list of winners and links to many of the stories, is available at the Association’s Web site at http://www.ewa.org.