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Times' oceans expose wins writers a Polk Award

February 20, 2007|From a Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles Times staff writer Kenneth R. Weiss and former staffer Usha Lee McFarling have won a George Polk Award for their series "Altered Oceans," it was announced today.

The five-part series, published July 30 through Aug. 3, chronicled symptoms of distress in the world's oceans, ranging from a virulent rash afflicting Australian fishermen to brainaltering poisons detected in California sea lions.

The series linked those and other problems to changes in ocean chemistry caused by agricultural and industrial waste. The articles, along with videos and related materials, are available at

Also honored by the Polk judges were New York Times correspondent Lydia Polgreen, for her reporting on the bloodshed in Darfur; and Wall Street Journal reporters James Bandler, Charles Forelle and Mark Maremont for exposing the backdating of executives' stock options.

Other winners include: Robert Little of the Baltimore Sun for a series on the Defense Department's use of a dangerous drug to treat soldiers; the Hartford Courant's Lisa Chedekel and Matthew Kauffman for articles on the high rate of suicide among U.S. troops; Bryan Denson, Jeff Kosseff and Les Zaitz of the Portland Oregonian for uncovering the failure of a federal employment program; and Debbie Cenziper of the Miami Herald for documenting mismanagement at one of the nation's largest housing agencies.

A Chicago weekly newspaper, Lakefront Outlook, was honored for exposing favoritism and waste at a multimillion-dollar cultural center.

Ray Ring of the biweekly High Country News of Paonia, Colo., won for examining the role of a wealthy eastern libertarian in bankrolling a referendum against land-use regulations in several western states.

Filmmakers Spike Lee and Sam Pollard were honored for "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts," a documentary on the effects of Hurricane Katrina.

NBC News correspondent Lisa Myers and producer Adam Ciralsky were recognized for their reporting on irregularities in an Army program to develop a defense against rocket-propelled grenades.

A Polk award for radio reporting honored "Early Signs: Reports from a Warming Planet," produced by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, American Public Media and the public radio program "Living on Earth."

The Polk awards, sponsored by Long Island University's Brooklyn, N.Y., campus, are named for a CBS correspondent who was killed while covering the civil war in Greece in 1948.

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