2009 Winner »
Rick Casey, Houston Chronicle, for a series of four columns on immigration.
Honorable Mentions »
The Texas Observer‘s tough, passionate investigative reporting and fearless, witty commentary were Molly Ivins’ great loves until her untimely death in 2007.
How better to remember her, we thought, than by honoring outstanding American journalism that exemplifies the deep thinking and bracing contrariness of her own best work? That was the idea behind The MOLLY National Journalism Prize, now in its second year. The inaugural winner was Diane Suchetka of the Cleveland’s Plain Dealer, for a five-part series following a young inner-city man struggling to earn his high-school equivalency degree.
The prize recognizes print or online journalism of exceptional merit that tells stories that need telling, challenges conventional wisdom, focuses on civil liberties or social justice, and embodies the smartness and sharpness of the journalism Molly Ivins produced and nurtured as an Observer reporter, editor and columnist.
This year’s winners were honored at an awards dinner on June 11. Together with the scores of worthy entries from which our judges chose, they demonstrate that in this trying time of transition and uncertainty for American journalism, conventional wisdom is still being challenged—and difficult, buried truths are still being brought into the light of day with style and nerve.
The MOLLY 2009 Winner » Rick Casey, The Houston Chronicle
Rick Casey has been Metro Columnist for the Houston Chronicle since August, 2003. He had written a column for the San Antonio Express-News and the San Antonio Light since 1987. Before that, he had edited two city magazines, worked as a reporter and editor for the Seattle Times, and free-lanced for papers such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe and for Newsweek.
Casey has lived more than half his 62 years in Texas, but has also lived in Boston, New York, Washington, Kansas City, Denver and Seattle. He is a native of St. Louis.
Casey has won numerous awards, including twice being named best general columnist for a major Texas newspaper by the Associated Press Managing Editors Association.
Casey is married with two college-age daughters.
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The MOLLY 2009 Honorable Mentions »
Nick Turse, The Nation and TheNation.com
Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian, essayist, and the associate editor of the Nation Institute’s Tomdispatch.com. He is the author of The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives (Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt, 2008) and has written for The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Nation, In These Times, Le Monde Diplomatique (English- and German- language) and The Village Voice, among other print and on-line publications.
Turse was the recipient of a Ridenhour Prize at the National Press Club in April 2009 for his years-long investigation of mass civilian slaughter by U.S. troops in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, in 1968-1969, during Operation Speedy Express. In his article for The Nation, “A My Lai a Month,” he also exposed a Pentagon-level cover-up of these crimes that was abetted by a major news magazine. In 2009, he also received a James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism from Hunter College for the same article.
Turse is currently at work on Kill Anything That Moves, a history of U.S. atrocities during the Vietnam War for Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for work on Kill Anything That Moves. Starting in the fall of 2009, Turse will be a fellow at New York University’s Center for the United States and the Cold War. He has a Ph.D in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University.
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Howard Witt, Chicago Tribune
Howard Witt is the Senior Managing Editor of Stars & Stripes, the independent newspaper serving members of the U.S. military deployed overseas.
Until May, 2009, Witt was the southwest bureau chief of the Chicago Tribune, based in Houston. He joined the paper as a summer intern in 1982 and during his 25-year career there he served as a national correspondent, foreign correspondent and editor.
From 1987 to 1994, Witt was stationed in Toronto, Johannesburg and Moscow. Among many stories of international significance, he covered the Lockerbie bombing, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the ouster of Ceausescu, the release of Nelson Mandela and the end of apartheid, the Moscow coups in 1991 and 1993 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Witt returned to the United States in 1995, first as Los Angeles bureau chief and then chief of correspondents in Chicago. In 1997, Witt was named associate managing editor for interactive news, a position in which he supervised the editorial staffs of the Tribune‘s Internet sites. He left the paper in 1999 and was editor in chief of the Washington, D.C. City Paper in 2000-01. In late 2001, Witt returned to the Tribune, joining the paper’s Washington bureau as chief diplomatic correspondent.
From 2003 until 2009, Witt was stationed in Texas. In 2005, he wrote a series documenting the long-term aftereffects of the Oklahoma City bombing on survivors and first responders, as well as a series tracking the resurrection of Antoine’s Restaurant, a New Orleans icon crippled by Hurricane Katrina.
For his coverage of civil rights issues in 2007, Witt was recognized as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in National Reporting, and he also won the Nieman Foundation’s Taylor Award for Fairness in Journalism, the American Judicature Society’s Toni House Journalism Award, the Chicago Bar Association’s Herman Kogan Award and several other major national citations.
Born in Chicago on Jan. 21, 1960, Witt graduated with high distinction from the University of Michigan in 1982, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in English language and literature. He and his wife, Andrea Mayfield-Witt, have three children.