By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Staff writer Mark Donald scored a Dallas Observer first in the recent Press Club of Dallas Foundation Katie Awards, winning three individual honors and earning finalist status in two other categories. The Katies recognize outstanding journalistic work in a five-state area. Donald's performance capped a successful showing for the Observer, which won two other awards, all in major-market competition. The Observer fought for, and won, the right to compete against The Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as a major-market newspaper last year. In earlier years, the Observer was barred from competing in several major contest categories in the Katie Awards.
Donald took first-place honors in the Government/Political Story category for his May 2 in-depth report on Dallas' fake-drugs scandal, "Dirty or Duped?"; the Arts Feature category for his August 2, 2001, story "Rich Man, Poor Man" about the rise and fall of Dallas architect Tom Stanley; and the Specialty Feature category for his October 11, 2001, investigative report "Deadbeating the System," which showed why the state's system for tracking deadbeat parents isn't working as well as it should, despite an improved tracking system in the Texas Attorney General's Office. "Deadbeating the System" had previously been named a winner of a State Bar of Texas Gavel Award.
Donald, who stepped away from a successful career as a criminal defense attorney and Dallas County magistrate to become a full-time writer, was also recognized for his reporting on legal affairs by being named one of three finalists for the Specialty Reporting category, which honors beat writers. Donald's other finalist was the December 6, 2001, feature story "Tortured Souls."
The Observer's other winners were columnist Jim Schutze, who placed first in the Editorial/Comment category for "Down the River," an October 25, 2001, piece that took former Mayor Ron Kirk to task for his misinformation about the "thousands of black families all over South Dallas" whose homes would be vulnerable to flooding if the city didn't implement the Trinity River Plan. Schutze hit the streets with a map and found out that few, if any, black families lived in the industrial areas that would benefit most from Kirk's plan.
Associate Editor Eric Celeste won the Specialty Column category for his media column Filler. One of the columns recognized, April 18's "Bill Due," detailed how the Morning News suppressed a story about District Attorney Bill Hill's decision to drop a misdemeanor assault charge against Highland Park philanthropist Angela Barrett.
Observer staffers Carlton Stowers and Thomas Korosec were also named Katie finalists. The Dallas Morning News scored the most Katie winners with 10, and was also named the best Major Market Daily Newspaper.
In other contest news, Dallas Observer Editor Julie Lyons won a National Council on Crime and Delinquency PASS Award for "12-year-old Killer," her portrait of convicted murderer Edwin Debrow Jr., which ran in two parts on March 28 and April 4. The PASS Awards honor journalism that examines the causes of youth violence.