Sun reporter Mark Puente's series, "Undue Force," won the Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award for reporting on racial or religious hatred, intolerance or discrimination in the U.S. from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, as well as second place in the Headliner Award's investigative category.
Also on Tuesday, TV and media critic David Zurawik was named a finalist in the best commentary category of the Mirror Awards, presented by Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications for media reporting. He was singled out for the column "Biggest stories of 2014 didn't need traditional news outlets," which described how raw video and social media are challenging legacy media. The winner will be named in June.
In its coverage of the mall shootings, The Sun provided extensive online and print coverage. It published more than two dozen articles accompanied by videos, graphics and photo galleries in the days following the attack. Reporters profiled the victims and the shooter, investigated the motive and the purchase of the gun, and explored the community's reaction.
The Tobenkin Award juror's citation said that Puente "uncovered a shocking pattern of abuse in his investigation of the Baltimore Police Department. He showed that dozens of city residents have been beaten in the course of questionable arrests. He also found that since 2011, the city has paid more than $5.7 million in more than a hundred civil suits alleging brutality and police misconduct. His reporting triggered change. Baltimore officials have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate and have released a reform plan.
"The power of this series is not just the sheer number of violations uncovered, but the stories behind them -- the faces, voices and detailed accounts in each incident. This called for almost impossible-to-get interviews and meticulous scrutiny of records and video footage. In short, it required a reporter with tremendous persistence and dedication. Puente made these experiences real to readers and to those in power as well."
The series was previously named a finalist in the Investigative Reporters & Editors contest.
Five days after the first part of the investigation was published, Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts announced that he had asked the Justice Department to help reform the agency. That collaborative review is continuing.
Other Baltimore media outlets were recognized as well. WBAL Radio won the National Headliner best of show award in the radio category for its story, "Pimlico Preakness Jockeys of Tomorrow" and second place in the newscast category. WBAL-TV won broadcast awards for its 5 p.m. newscast, its website and its coverage of the 26th Street collapse and science reporting.
The Sun's awards Tuesday followed national recognition for other coverage:
• The Society of News Design recognized the online presentations of "Undue Force" and "Painful Lessons" with Awards of Excellence. Among those involved in creating the presentations were Adam Marton, Kalani Gordon, Greg Kohn and Emma Patti Harris.