Dallas Observer staff writer Miriam Rozen has won a 1997 Benjamin Fine Award for Education Reporting, given by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
Rozen won in the non-daily newspaper category for her September 11 cover story, "See Yvonne. See Yvonne run. See Yvonne run from the truth." The story detailed former DISD Superintendent Yvonne Gonzalez's tenuous grasp of the truth and her attempts to control information issuing from the district. It also outlined several of Gonzalez's financial gaffes, including the high cost of her office renovation--more than $90,000, compared with the $12,000 figure she originally reported.
The article was the first critical portrait of Gonzalez to appear in the Dallas media. Within weeks, Gonzalez had resigned as superintendent amid allegations that she had sexually harassed a high-ranking administrator, Matthew Harden. Gonzalez was later indicted on charges that she used district money to buy personal furniture. Gonzalez pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison earlier this month.
This is the second consecutive year that Observer staff writers have won Benjamin Fine awards. Last year, staff writer Thomas Korosec and former staff writer Kaylois Henry were named winners in the non-daily newspaper category.
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Thirteen newspapers and magazines were named winners in various categories this year, and 17 publications received honorable mentions, including the Observer's sister papers Denver Westword and Phoenix New Times. The grand prize went to Melvin Claxton, a reporter for The Virgin Islands Daily News.