DALLAS—The Dallas Bar Association honored the best legal news reporting in the Dallas-Fort Worth area today, Friday, October 12, as it hosted the 35th Annual Stephen Philbin Awards at the Belo Mansion. In selecting the winners, judges consider educational value, accuracy, resourcefulness, as well as the journalist’s initiative in pursuing the story and the story’s contribution to public debate.
Taking home this year’s grand prize award was the NBC 5 investigative team of Scott Friedman, Eva Parks, Jack Douglas, Jose Sanchez, Mark Ginther, and Frank Heinz for their report “Big Buses, Bigger Problems: Taxpayers Taken for a Ride,” which is investigative series that exposed corruption and staggering financial mismanagement inside Dallas County Schools, a taxpayer funded agency responsible for transporting more than 75,000 children to school each day. As a result of this 18-month long investigation, multiple actions were taken quickly and effectively to right these wrongs and to reorganize school busing in Dallas. The judges stated: “Big Buses demonstrated to me, what investigative journalism should be—it was timely, thorough, and informative.”
Additional winners include:
- Suburban/Specialty Article: Joshua C. Johnson, Focus Daily News, for his article “Lancaster ISD Police Officer Sparks Dialogue On Perception, Understanding”
- Series/Investigative Article: Tanya Eiserer, Michael Botsford, and Martin Doporto, WFAA-TV, for their “Deadly Consequences”
- Breaking News: Eric Griffey and Jeff Prince, Fort Worth Weekly, for their article “Flamed Out”
- Feature Article: Bruce Tomaso and Allen Pusey, The Texas LawBook, for their article “Wake Up the Pope!”
- Visual/Multi-Media Story: Jason Whitely, Mark Smith, and Taylor Lumsden, WFAA-TV, for “What Went Wrong in Waco”
- Student Publication: Kyle Cotton, The Shorthorn at the University of Texas-Arlington, for his article “Firefighters file civil service lawsuit against the city”
The Philbin Awards were established in 1983 in honor of Stephen Philbin, an active member of the Dallas Bar Association and a leading authority on media law, who lost his battle with leukemia in 1982. Winners in each of the categories receive a $1,000 cash award, with the Grand Prize winner receiving a $1,750 cash award. Winning entries are selected by a panel of judges, which included Lisa A. Rich, Associate Professor of Law, Texas A&M University School of Law; and Cheryl Wattley, Professor of Law, UNT Dallas College of Law.
William McKenzie, of the George W. Bush Institute, and Keven Ann Willey, Dallas Morning News, retired, were the keynote speakers for this year’s Philbin Awards Luncheon, which included an audience of 150 lawyers, judges, and journalists.
About the Dallas Bar Association
The Dallas Bar Association is a professional, voluntary organization of more than 11,000 Dallas-area attorneys.