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Times' Murphy Wins Sigma Delta Chi Award

April 14, 1999

Times staff writer Dean E. Murphy, the Johannesburg, South Africa, bureau chief, has won the foreign correspondence award in the Society of Professional Journalists' 1998 Sigma Delta Chi journalism competition.

Murphy's award, announced Tuesday, recognizes five stories. Their subjects include the spread of AIDS to African children by rape, last summer's embassy bombings in Kenya, and South Africa's affluent criminals.

In the story about AIDS, Murphy described how sexual violence against children is becoming a significant--although mostly unmentioned--contributor to the disease among the youngest generation in Africa, where overall infection rates have skyrocketed in the last few years.

Confronting sexual issues is so taboo in most African cultures, Murphy wrote, that rapists frequently go unpunished. Few families will endure the public shame of acknowledging the abuse, even when they suspect HIV may have been transmitted.

Sigma Delta Chi awards also went to other journalists, including Alix M. Freedman of the Wall Street Journal for a story on the chemical sterilization of more than 100,000 Third World women, sometimes without their knowledge or against their will; the St. Petersburg Times for its coverage of one man's one-hour killing rampage that resulted in five deaths, including the man's suicide; Gary M. Pomerantz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for the story of a plane crash and its aftermath; and Donald L. Bartlett and James B. Steele of Time magazine for a series on the folly of government handouts to corporations.

Murphy, 40, has been in South Africa since 1997. Before that, he was the Warsaw bureau chief. He joined The Times in 1984 and has worked for the San Fernando Valley Edition, the Los Angeles city-county bureau, and the Metro and state desks.

He graduated from Northwestern University and received a master's degree in international affairs from Johns Hopkins University.

Sigma Delta Chi, founded in 1909, is a nonprofit organization with 13,000 members. Its purpose is to encourage the free practice of journalism and stimulate high standards of journalistic ethics.

In the organization's last eight competitions, the Los Angeles Times has won the foreign correspondence award six times.

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