The Morning Call (Allentown) is the 2011 recipient of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association (PNA) Foundation’s G. Richard Dew Award.
The G. Richard Dew Award is the Foundation’s- most prestigious honor for outstanding journalism. The award was established in memory of G. Richard Dew, former general manager of the PNA (then PNPA) and former executive director of the Pennsylvania Society of Newspaper Editors. The purpose of this award is to recognize an individual or organization that has made an outstanding contribution to its community or state through an article or series of articles.
This year’s recipient, The Morning Call, made outstanding contributions to the community that exemplified improvement in the quality of community life, enhancement of public understanding of the role of the news media and journalistic responsiveness to matters of public interest.
The Morning Call was selected because of the positive effect and change in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that occurred through its publication of the stories centering on the Allentown gas explosion. On Feb. 9, a natural gas pipe exploded, destroying an entire city block in Allentown. The Morning Call news team worked tirelessly throughout the cold night, constantly posting Web updates and tweeting the breaking news on the scene. The judges agreed that one of the hallmarks of journalism is “a staff-wide response to a breaking news story.” The Morning Call exemplified this as every writer in the newsroom played a part in the coverage that continued weeks and months after the blast occurred. The paper not only told heart breaking stories about the victims and their families, but it also took a watch dog approach. The Morning Call examined the fears of readers by addressing all topics related to natural gas and potential explosions. One reporter even drove gas company UGI to agree to release information about natural gas pipes that had previously been denied.
Judges said, “The follow up, the tips, and holding officials accountable – only a newspaper can do that for a community. That is the essence of what gives print a competitive edge in the hostile media world today.”
The G. Richard Dew Award will be presented Nov. 11, 2011, during the PNA Annual Convention at the Omni Bedford Springs Resort in Bedford, Pa.
The PNA Foundation, established in 1967, is a tax-exempt, nonprofit corporation under IRS code 501(c)(3). Its mission is to improve newspapers through education and training programs and to develop a better understanding in the public and private sectors about the role of newspapers.