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Winners of the L.A. Times' 2012 Editorial Awards

April 18, 2013|By Deirdre Edgar | This post has been updated. See note below

The Los Angeles Times' Editorial Awards for 2012 were presented in a ceremony Thursday night, honoring the newsroom's best work from the past year.

At the ceremony, Editor Davan Maharaj announced a new honor, the Editor's Award for Persistence, which he dubbed the Golden Cockroach Award.

"The cockroach can't be exterminated and can't be stopped," he said. "You can stomp on them, take their food away, and deny their document requests -- but they're still there at the end of the day. Sounds a lot like many journalists over the last 10 years. And like many people in this room. Faced with obstacles, we overcome. Beaten down, we rise again."

The winners: The Times' 2012 political team.

Maharaj quoted from a Columbia Journalism Review column by Walter Shapiro to announce the winners:

"My enthusiasm for the LA Times' political coverage is becoming a Johnny-one-note obsession. Several times I have commended Matea Gold and her colleagues on the money-in-politics beat for their against-the-grain curiosity about how political consultants were getting rich from this $6 billion campaign year.  But it was also the smartness of the newspaper’s day-to-day coverage, as shown in stories like Michael Finnegan’s fast-off-the-mark reporting from Ohio about how the attacks on Bain Capital were hurting Romney.  And the paper displayed impressive journalistic self-confidence in debunking obvious lies and misstatements in the middle of news stories, whether they were Donald Trump’s birther rants or Romney’s post-election attack on Barack Obama’s purported "gifts." What 2012 taught me is that quality political reporting can flower even in forbidding or unlikely terrains.  So let me lift a glass to the campaign reporters and editors at the Los Angeles Times, who this year embodied hope and change in journalism.”

Other winners:

Breaking news: National staff, for coverage of the movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colo. Last year, the National staff covered one disaster after another: mass shootings at a Colorado theater, a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin and a Connecticut elementary school; as well as Super Storm Sandy. A constant in all these stories was the energy, dedication and calm professionalism of the National staff as they brought the details, the nuance and the humanity home to readers. They were aided by the Washington bureau, Metro, Calendar, Business, photo, the Web staff, design, news research, the copy desk and the amazing Metpros. The Aurora coverage stands out as one of the finest L.A. Times swarms – a massive response on all fronts and platforms, with every department contributing.

Opinion journalism (two winners): Michael Hiltzik, whose commentaries in The Times' Business section marshal original reporting and critical analysis to illuminate complex and important issues with a forceful point of view.

Mary McNamara, for her searching television criticism that often becomes a springboard for provocative comments on the culture at large. She can make us laugh; she can make us cry; and just as importantly she can make us think.

Explanatory journalism: Calendar staff, for "Inside the Academy." The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is Hollywood’s most influential organization. Its Oscars show is watched by millions. But who, exactly, votes on these awards? The Academy refused to release its roster, so reporters made thousands of phone calls to get the answer. In the end, the team tracked down nearly 90% of the group’s almost 5,800 voting members. What they found was revealing: Oscar voters were nearly 94% Caucasian and 77% male. Blacks composed about 2% of the Academy, and Latinos less than 2%. Perhaps most important, the study prompted the Academy to action, with its leaders telling The Times they planned to use the study to start remaking the organization.

Investigations: Kim Christensen, Jason Felch, Maloy Moore and Ken Schwencke, for "Shame of the Boy Scouts," which revealed the contents of thousands of files documenting sexual abuse in one of the nation’s most revered youth organizations. After making meticulous redactions to protect the victims, Times journalists posted a database of 5,000 case files. Within days, more than 100,000 readers had searched those files.

Feature writing: Molly Hennessy-Fiske, for "Standing Up: Davien's Story." When Hennessy-Fiske first met Davien Graham, he was 16 and in a hospital bed, paralyzed and unsure of his future. Five years would pass between that meeting and his decision to testify in court, testimony that sent his assailant to prison. Hennessy-Fiske turned a tragic gang-related shooting in Monrovia into a dramatic tale of fear, courage and moral uplift.

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