SOJC honors ethics in journalism with Ancil Payne Award

The UO School of Journalism and Communications will celebrate “getting it right instead of getting it first” at a luncheon for this year’s winners of the Ancil Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism.

The event, which will honor journalists covering sexual assault, children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and racism, will be held Thursday, May 21, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:20 p.m. in the Ford Alumni Center.   

The winners are Gillian McGoldrick, Reed Hennessy, Jackson Haines and Madison Buffardi, members of a high school newspaper in Pennsylvania; Chicago Tribune reporters David Jackson, Gary Marx and Duaa Eldeib; and Arizona Republic journalists Daniel Gonzalez and Bob Ortega.

McGoldrick, Hennessy, Haines and Buffardi worked at the Neshaminy High School newspaper, The Playwickian, in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. The paper banned their school mascot’s name, Redskins, from their publication. The decision was made by a vote within the staff, but negative reactions came from the school and the community with pressure on the paper to publish the mascot name, but the students held their ground.

Jackson, Marx and Eldeib wrote “Harsh Treatment,” a yearlong investigation that focused on Illinois state wards who were assaulted and raped while ignored by state authorities. The multipart story even forced an emergency meeting by the Department of Children and Family Services  over the troubling stories brought to light by the feature.

Finally, Gonzalez and Ortega wrote "A Pipeline for Children," which told the stories of children and families fleeing Central America into the United States. Gonzalez and Ortega reported along the U.S.-Mexico border and in Central America to provide the voices of people risking their lives to reach the United States.

This is the 15th annual Ancil Payne Awards from the School of Journalism and Communications, which received 29 nominations.  The award is worth $5,000 and focuses on ethics and courage in reporters, who are often covering difficult topics.

“In a media environment where getting it first is too often the primary driver of news, this year’s Ancil Payne Award winners exemplify the power and the critical importance of making careful ethical decisions about what is published and how it is published,” said Tim Gleason, director of the Payne Awards and a journalism  professor. “These student and professional journalists carefully considered the consequences of the work and stood by the decisions they made. Getting it right is always more important than getting it first.”

For a complete description of the award winners, see the School of Journalism and Communication website.

By Nathan Stevens, Public Affairs Communications intern