Dallas Observer restaurant critic Mark Stuertz won a James Beard Award last weekend for his December 5, 2002, cover story "Green Giant," about Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug, father of the "Green Revolution" in agriculture. The James Beard Foundation's annual journalism awards are among the most prestigious national honors a food writer can win.
Stuertz won for newspaper, magazine or Internet reporting on consumer issues, nutrition and/or health for his in-depth report on how Borlaug's innovations in high-yield agriculture have been credited with saving the lives of a billion people. Nonetheless, Borlaug is scorned by some environmentalists for championing chemical-intensive farming and genetic engineering--whatever works to feed a hungry world. Borlaug, who won a Nobel Prize in 1970, divides his time between Dallas and Mexico.
Stuertz has been the Observer's principal restaurant critic since 1997. He reports on other subjects as well, including Dallas' high-end nightclub scene, which he wrote about in last week's cover story "Kings of Clubs."
Also last week, Observer contributor Glenna Whitley won a Headliners award for "Crazy White Mother," her cover story about Doug Havard, a private-school teen from a wealthy Dallas family whose fantasies about living the thug life eventually became a horrifying reality. Havard is now a fugitive wanted on several felony charges, including armed robbery and trafficking in GHB, a notorious date-rape drug.
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The Texas Headliners awards are the most coveted state journalism honors. Whitley won the Special Achievement award for magazine and specialty publications--her third Headliners award. Other local winners in newspaper categories include Michael Granberry of The Dallas Morning News for feature writing; and Tim Madigan, Rodger Mallison and Jeffrey Washington of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for explanatory journalism.
"Crazy White Mother" has also been honored in other national contests, including the Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Writing Award, for which it was named a finalist along with Observer Editor Julie Lyons' "Back in Bounds," a story about Michael Irvin's recent religious conversion.
Another cover story by Whitley, "Knocked Out"--about a local college student who claims she was raped while under the influence of GHB--has won the Association for Women Journalists' award for feature writing.
In national competition, Observer staff writer Thomas Korosec and former staff writer Rose Farley were named finalists in the Investigative Reporters and Editors contest for "Sweetheart Deal," an April 25, 2002, cover story that detailed how Virginia McGuire, operator of a local housing nonprofit, managed to channel hundreds of thousands of dollars to herself and her husband, thanks to loopholes in state and federal laws. McGuire resigned soon after the story ran.