Schutze won for his April 16, 1998, cover story, "Saint Al," which explored the paradox of Al Lipscomb, black Dallas icon, and Al Lipscomb, allegedly corrupt politician. Schutze reported how Dallas City Councilman Lipscomb made some of his questionable deals as a politician on marching orders from prominent white Dallas businessmen. Earlier this year, Lipscomb was indicted on federal charges of accepting bribes from Yellow Cab owner Floyd Richards.
Schutze placed Lipscomb's actions as a councilman within the context of Dallas' racially charged city politics and asked why the "plantation politicians" have never been forced to pay the price for their own "sins."
This is the Observer's second Unity Award. Last year, Observer Editor Julie Lyons was named a winner in editorial writing for a series of columns on Dallas Independent School District board politics.
Another Observer staff writer, Ann Zimmerman, has also been honored for her work. Zimmerman was named one of six finalists for the Medill School of Journalism's John Bartlow Martin Award for her March 5, 1998, cover story, "The war against Gulf War Syndrome." The award recognizes outstanding public-interest magazine journalism.
Zimmerman's article told the story of Dr. Robert Haley and his team of researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, who have found evidence that a toxic cocktail of pesticides, insect repellent, nerve gas, and experimental anti-nerve-gas pills injured many Gulf War veterans, causing a subtle form of brain and nerve damage.
Haley's researchers also found themselves embroiled in their own war with members of the military and government intent on dismissing their work. Zimmerman told how the investigation into the existence of Gulf War Syndrome became entangled in backbiting and intrigue in which Haley's researchers were labeled charlatans.
Time magazine reporters Don Barlett and Jim Steele won the John Bartlow Martin Award for a series on corporate welfare, for which they received a $2,000 prize.
Former Observer associate editor David Pasztor, now with the Observer's sister paper in San Francisco, placed third for "Building a better bomb," an expose of the Defense Department's $40 billion weapons development program.