Enter OnlineRules/Eligibility
2015 Honorees
Enter OnlineRules/EligibilityCategoriesReception2015 Honorees
2002 SDX Awards
List of Winners

2002 Gallery
Deadline Reporting
Continuous Coverage
Investigative Reporting
Feature Writing
Column Writing
Journalism Research
Public Service

Sigma Delta Chi Awards
General Info

2015 Winners
2014 Winners
2013 Winners
2012 Winners
2011 Winners
2010 Winners
2009 Winners
2008 Winners
2007 Winners
2006 Winners
2005 Winners
2004 Winners
2003 Winners
2002 Winners
2001 Winners
2000 Winners
1999 Winners
1997 Winners
1996 Winners

All Awards
Sigma Delta Chi
Mark of Excellence
New America Award
Foundation Awards

Contact Awards Coordinator Abbi Martzall via email or by phone 317/927-8000, ext. 210.

Awards & Honors Committee Chair

Andy Schotz
City editor
The Frederick News-Post
Frederick, Md.
Bio (click to expand) picture Andy Schotz is a city editor for the Frederick News-Post in Frederick, Md.

He has been an SPJ member since 2002 and has held various positions on the Washington, D.C., Pro chapter board, including three consecutive one-year terms as president.

He served on the SPJ Ethics Committee from 2004 to 2011, including three years as chairman.

Schotz ran unsuccessfully for at-large director on the national SPJ board in 2012. The following year, he ran unopposed for Region 2 director.

He is a perennial SPJ contest judge (D.C. Pro Dateline Awards, SDX, Mark of Excellence, Green Eyeshade, high school essay) and has twice coordinated Region 2's Mark of Excellence contest.

He joined the SPJ Awards & Honors Committee in 2013 and helped work on a national survey seeking feedback about the MOE contest.

Before joining The Gazette in January 2013, Schotz worked for eight years as a reporter and editor at The Altamont Enterprise, a weekly paper in upstate New York, then for 13 years as a reporter for The Herald-Mail, a daily paper in Hagerstown, Md. He has worked at The Frederick News-Post since September 2015.

He is on the board of directors of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors.

Sarah Bauer, vice chair
Program Director
Minnesota Newspaper Association
Bio (click to expand) Sarah Bauer is the Program Director for the Minnesota Newspaper Association (MNA). MNA is the trade association all Minnesota Newspapers, and represents the interests of more than 360 daily and weekly publications. Bauer plans all educational and outreach programs for the Association, including hands-on training for journalists, public forums on media issues, an annual excellence in journalism contest, and its annual convention.

Bauer speaks regularly about media ethics issues, community journalism, social media, and issues like the intersection of journalism and politics. Bauer graduated from the University of Minnesota with degrees in journalism and philosophy. She has been involved with the Society of Professional Journalists as member and chapter leader since she joined the University of Minnesota’s chapter. Since 2006, Bauer has served on the MN Pro chapter board of directors, currently serving as the chapter president and chair of its annual journalism award contest and banquet. She is also the chairwoman of the Society’s national membership committee.

SDX 2002 Awards Gallery


Television (Network/Top 25)
Television (All other markets)

Strong stories need passion

By Dave Isay

A documentary is a great way to tell a story. It’s perfect for intimate, personal stories; for stories that take listeners into dark corners; for melancholy stories; for stories of the heart. All you need is a tape recorder, a microphone and a willingness to listen carefully – and you’ve got all the tools you need to make magic.

A couple of documentary rules of thumb:

—Only do stories you care about.
— Creating and airing a single piece that really means something to you is more important than creating a hundred that don’t.
— Always tell the truth – in the stories and to your subjects.
— Never take shortcuts.
— Infuse every documentary you make with passion, spirit and heart.

OK, it’s not very glamorous. It’s an idiosyncratic medium practiced by a largely idiosyncratic bunch.

The pay? It’s about as hard to make a living producing radio documentaries as it is writing poetry.

It’s obsessive work – cutting down tens (or hundreds) of hours of tape into a precious few minutes. (I’ve heard it compared to carving a statue in a walnut).

You have to be a little crazy to be in the business. But in my book, there is nothing – NOTHING – that compares.

I once read a quote that said something like: “It’s in the human voice – far more than in pictures or writing – that the dead continue to live.” It’s true, and it’s just one of the profound parts of working in the medium. You can do a story for the cost of a few tapes that’s heard by 9 million listeners in one shot. If it’s done right – like the stories honored in this issue – you can even make a real difference in people’s lives.

It’s a privilege and a pleasure to be creating documentaries. If you haven’t been bitten by the bug yet, I’d suggest you just sit down and listen to or watch a few of the winning entries that follow. I promise you won’t regret it.

Dave Isay is a radio producer, MacArthur Fellow and winner of several SDX Awards for radio documentary work.

[ Back to Top ]


Richard Paul, Soundprint, "We Were on Duty"

Listen to a portion of this entry (requires QuickTime)

“We Were On Duty,” a first-person oral history of the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon, explores untold stories of survival, recovery and hope of some of the most severely injured victims of the tragedy.

Rather than rehashing previously told stories for the first anniversary of the attacks, the documentary broke new ground and gave voice to some untold stories.

Providing a forum for victims and their spouses, DC-based radio producer Richard Paul uses multiple interviews to paint a factual and nuanced picture of the physical and psychological toll one year later.
The hour-long piece used minimal narration to focus on the voices of the survivors. It documents their harrowing escape, excruciating burn treatments and the anguish the misfortune has unleashed on their families.

“Listening, I gasped, I cried, and I laughed. I understood the event, and the human costs of the event, in a more profound way than I had before,” said a judge.

Paul notes that the enormity of the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center, in many respects, dwarfed news coverage of the terrorist attack on the Pentagon. Yet the Pentagon attack took 184 lives – six more than the 1995 bombing of Okalahoma City federal building, which dominated national news for months.

The idea to chronicle the experience of the Pentagon survivors came to Paul when he reviewed the rundown of proposed stories for a project, The Public Radio Collaboration: Understanding America After 9/11.

“Paul noticed nothing was planned to commemorate or describe the experience of the 184 people who died at the Pentagon or the hundreds more who crawled through smoke and over burning wreckage to safety on Sept. 11,” said Moira Rankin, executive director of Soundprint Media Center, the organization that distributed Paul’s work.

When Paul asked the organizers of the Public Radio Collaboration if they wanted a program on the Pentagon attack, they gave him the green light and agreed to distribute it to public radio stations. The documentary aired on 127 public radio stations.

[ Back to Top ]

Television (Network/Top 25)

CBS, 9/11

View a portion of this entry (requires QuickTime)

When three filmmakers began documenting the rite of passage for a rookie New York City firefighter in the spring of 2001, they had no idea they would end up on the frontlines of a new chapter in history. What started out as a relatively routine project suddenly turned horrifying on the morning of Sept. 11.

As the events of the tragedy unfolded, the filmmakers followed firefighters into the World Trade Center’s Tower One just minutes after the attack. Their proximity to the towers underscores the uncertainty they faced. “The entire world knew more than we did,” said Jules Naudet, who was shooting inside Tower One.

The documentary captured the only known image of the first plane hitting the building, and the only known videotaped record of the last moments inside the Center. Broadcast on the eve of the attack’s six-month anniversary, the documentary gave about 39 million viewers some of the most up-close and personal access to the rescue effort to date.

“They ended up inside hell with the men of Engine 7 Ladder 1, bearing witness to history and to extraordinary courage in the face of terror. ... The faces in the film of New York’s top firefighters in the lobby of the World Trade Center’s Tower 1 told a story America had read about but had not yet seen; one of disbelief, controlled panic and remarkable courage,” said a statement from the CBS News program 48 HOURS.

“The story [the documentary] told has become an historical record that enabled a country to fully understand the courage of New York firemen with the heartbreaking knowledge that many of the firefighters whose faces are recorded would never leave the building alive.”

The final product was gleaned from 180 hours of raw video footage of the plane crashes and the aftermath. A small team of producers and editors with CBS News helped shape the footage, adding fresh images and interviews. The production team from 48 HOURS started working with the filmmakers in December 2001 and wrapped up production three months later.

Initially reluctant to release much of the footage, the filmmakers thought it might be too painful for public consumption. “Eventually they came to think it was more important for people to see firsthand the bravery of the firemen who reported to duty that morning in the lobby of the World Trade Center,” said the CBS statement.

The result generated a carefully edited account of their efforts that remained tactful without losing its power. Prior to airing, every firefighter whose face was seen in the documentary was identified and the families of those who died were contacted.

[ Back to Top ]

Television (All other markets)

Hagit Limor, Michael Benedic, Bob Morford, Phyllis Parker, WCPO-TV, Cincinnati

View a portion of this entry (requires QuickTime)

In Cincinnati, most citizens didn’t understand why it was so difficult to get in to see a doctor. Or why the wait was so long in an emergency room. Or why it was so hard for them to find quality health care.

An investigative team at WCPO-TV decided to research flaws in the city’s health care system. But when they started digging, they found a lot more than they expected. A secret report had been commissioned years earlier by corporate giants known as Cincinnati’s “Big Four” – Procter & Gamble, General Electric, Kroger and Cincinnati Bell. The report was commissioned to find ways for these companies to reduce their medical insurance costs; it resulted in deals being made with insurance agencies that were desperate to keep the tens of thousands of customers that came from these companies.

To keep their own costs down, the insurers reduced the amount they were willing to pay physicians. The best doctors soon left the city, finding they could make significantly more money by moving just hours away. Hospitals and emergency rooms shut their doors or implemented cost-cutting measures because of the change in policy, and physician groups found that they could no longer recruit talented doctors to Cincinnati.

After a two-year investigation, WCPO first aired the results in 2001 in a series of nightly news broadcasts. In 2002, they updated the story and retold it in a longer format – a 60-minute documentary. This was a new format for those who worked on it, but reporter and producer Hagit Limor said it was a rewarding experience.

“The most difficult part lay in crafting and writing a documentary in a setting not used to this format,” Limor said. “Everyone needs an editor and managing producer. Here we were creating something new on our own.”

The results of the documentary were immediate. Nearly 2,000 local doctors signed on to two class-action lawsuits against local insurance companies. An investigation was launched by a new subcommittee in the Ohio legislature. And in November, local companies and health care providers began an independent study to confirm the reports and decide what action to take.

The station received hundreds of faxes, calls and letter about the documentary. Due to public demand, they rebroadcast the piece in full. The local PBS station later aired it a third time.

“I believe we opened the eyes of the community to the reasons behind a problem that had been evolving for a decade,” said Limor. “Until this investigation, the individual hospital closings, practices shutting and long waits in emergency rooms and doctors’ waiting rooms seemed to be individual events. In fact they were linked. We connected the dots.”