Several Dallas Observer staff writers were honored in recent journalism competitions. Jimmy Fowler has been named a finalist for the prestigious Livingston Award, which honors the work of young journalists. Fowler was cited for his June 22, 2000, feature story "Firestarter," which chronicled his experiences as an eyewitness in a Dallas arson trial. Fowler described how--while sitting on his couch in his underwear--he barely escaped an arsonist's fire, then went on to serve as the prosecution's star witness. After his testimony led to the arsonist's conviction, Fowler wrote, "Still, a part of me wished I had either seen him actually light the match or simply not seen him at all."
"Firestarter" was also named last year as a finalist for feature writing in the five-state Katie Awards.
The three winners of the Livingston Award will be announced June 5. Also named as finalists were Dallas Morning News writers Charles Ornstein, Nancy San Martin and Alexandra Witze.
Observer news columnist Jim Schutze has been named a winner of a Unity Award in Media for the third year in a row. This year, Schutze won the Editorial Writing category for his July 27, 2000, column "The Exterminator," about Dallas City Council candidate Dwaine Caraway's bigoted comments at a local meeting of the Pylon Club, a black salesmanship organization. In his column, Schutze concluded, "Black politico Dwaine Caraway sounds a lot like a redneck when it comes to slamming his enemies." The Unity Awards, sponsored by Lincoln University, honor excellence in reporting on issues affecting minorities.
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In another national contest, staff writer Carlton Stowers was named a finalist for the Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Writing Award for his September 14, 2000, cover story "Death Angel," about the Rev. Carroll Pickett, who served for 15 years as chaplain for Texas' Death Row inmates. Pickett told his story for the first time in the Observer.
In state competition, Rose Farley was named a winner of a Texas Gavel Award for her February 24, 2000, cover story "Victims in the Shadows," which investigated the unethical practices of a Dallas immigration consulting business that charged exorbitant fees for helping immigrants obtain documentation, but in fact did little or nothing. Farley found that businesses like this one were far from uncommon in Dallas and that illegal immigrants have few avenues for recourse when it comes to protecting themselves from con artists. The Texas Gavel Awards are presented by the State Bar of Texas.
Staff writer Jonathan Fox has been named a winner of two awards for his investigation of the Dallas Independent School District's foundering special education program. His December 28, 2000, feature story "Not So Special" was honored with a Texas School Bell Award, sponsored by the Texas State Teachers Association, in the News/Feature Story category and was also cited by The Arc of Dallas for an "Award of Excellence." The Arc of Dallas is an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with mental retardation and related developmental conditions.
The full text of all of these stories may be viewed in the Archives section of www.dallasobserver.com.