AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi
NMG member Rob Maaddi earned the AP Beat of the Week award last week for a huge scoop that shone a glaring light on the NFL’s handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case.Maaddi, an AP pro football writer based in Philadelphoa, broke the story that league executives long ago were sent a graphic video showing the Ravens running back decking and knocking out then-fiancee Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino elevator in February.
NFL execs repeatedly denied seeing that video but said they’d seen the viral video showing Rice dragging the unconscious Palmer out of an elevator after the attack.
Maaddi had gotten a law enforcement source to secretly show him the video from inside the elevator. That person, it turned out, told Maaddi that he had previously shared the more-brutal video, sending it to the NFL in April. The source let Maaddi repeatedly listen to a voicemail confirming receipt of the DVD _ from a number at NFL headquarters. Continue reading
NMG members Mike Rubinkam and Patrick Whittle have won the past two Best of the States awards from the AP.
Rubinkam, the Allentown correspondent, won last week for his story on the 10th anniversary of casino gambling being legalized in Pennsylvania, which now ranks second in gross revenue behind Nevada.
Rubinkam examined years of tax revenue data to determine whether the 2004 claims of Gov. Ed Rendell and top state lawmakers that casino gambling would result in major relief from high school property taxes. He found that PA casino revenue has held down the growth of property taxes and eliminated them for poor seniors _ but hasn’t cut most homeowners’ tax bills. By crunching numbers from all 500 school districts, he found the average discount off tax bills was just $187 over five years.
His story generated front-page play in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and four other newspapers, plus a number of editorials.
Patrick Whittle in Portland, Maine, won the week before for a story breaking the news that the Gulf of Maine _ the heart of the region’s billion-dollar-a-year lobster industry _ is warming faster than 99 percent of the oceans.
NMG member Michelle Smith won last week’s Best of the States award for back-to-back exposés of how former Providence
Mayor Buddy Cianci’s children’s charity isn’t really helping kids.
Cianci for years has been selling his Mayor’s Own Marinara Sauce, with the claim that sales are “Benefiting Providence School Children” and that his charity has helped hundreds of students attend college.
Smith, the supervisory correspondent in Providence, became suspicious, investigated and found that no money from sauce sales had been given to the scholarship fund in recent years.
First, she got a Cianci advisor to concede to her that the label could be seen as false advertising. The she got Cianci to admit that, “There’s a certain public relations aspect to it all to me. … I can’t deny that.”
Next she pulled hundreds of pages of public documents and got watchdogs to analyze the charity’s finances. Continue reading
Two News Media Guild members, Rebecca Boone and Randy Herschaft, earned prestigious Gramling awards from The Associated Press last week. Each won a $3,000 Gramling Spirit Award, reflecting “the spirit and passion of everyone at AP,” as the company put it.
Boone, the supervisory correspondent in Boise, Idaho, won for what AP termed her “relentless commitment” to accountability journalism, which spurred her to uncover mismanagement and records falsification at the state’s biggest privately operated prison.
Her years-long series of stories on wrongdoing by the prison’s operator finally pushed Idaho’s legislature to overhaul how inmates are supervised.
She owned the story so well that some newspapers gave her their news tips to follow for her stories. Boone’s work earned her the Idaho Press Club’s First Amendment Award.
Boone, who joined AP 1n 2002, also has led the push by Idaho media groups for
access to public records and boosted AP’s relationship with its Idaho members.
Herschaft, an investigative researcher in New York, is known for uncovering the gems of info that help build great and distinctive stories. Continue reading
Talk about going above and beyond! Guild member Nigel Duara of the Portland bureau won this week’s Best of the States award for handling a scoop he’d lined up _ even though the key tip came right before his Aug. 2 wedding ceremony began.
Duara received a text message — “Settlement Monday” — indicating he could run an exclusive story then that he’d been pursuing for a while: The Army Corps of Engineers and an environmental group were about to settle a lawsuit over oil spills at eight dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers in Oregon and Washington.
The deal called for a first involving those dams. The Army Corps would be required to disclose the level of pollutants its dams send into the rivers and to apply for Environmental Protection Agency pollution permits. It could have ramifications for hundreds of dams operated by the Corps, which for decades has rejected EPA orders to stop dumping toxic lubricants into waterways. Continue reading