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Bemidji Pioneer, win Premack awards in journalism

Brad Swenson

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- and The Bemidji Pioneer are among the winners of the 2008 Frank Premack Public Affairs Journalism Awards, the Minnesota Journalism Center said Saturday. and Jay Weiner won in the category of breaking news about public affairs in the metro area, for their coverage of the ongoing Senate recount.

"MinnPost was able to breathe life into a process that moves at a glacial pace and thus keep readers interested in a story of great political importance," the Premack judges wrote. The coverage ran from Nov. 13 to Dec. 20.

For excellence in coverage of breaking news about public affairs in greater Minnesota, The Bemidji Pioneer and political editor Brad Swenson won for their feature of U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, the Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. The Aug. 17 two-part coverage focused on Peterson's role in drafting a major farm bill and his efforts to help farms that were fighting bovine tuberculosis.

"The article is especially relevant because it contained candid comments from a national policymaker who rarely talks in-depth with the media," the judges wrote.

The award competition started in 1976 after the death of Frank Premack, a reporter, city editor and assistant managing editor at the Minneapolis Tribune. The award is one of Minnesota's most coveted and celebrated journalism honors.

The other winners were:

-- Excellence in investigative or analytical reporting about public affairs in the metro area: The St. Paul Pioneer Press and reporters Jeremy Olson and Paul Tosto. Their series probed a schizophrenia patient's medical treatment and death.

-- Excellence in investigative or analytical reporting about public affairs in greater Minnesota: The Rochester Post-Bulletin and Jeff Hansel. The story traced a neurological illness that was afflicting workers in a hog-processing plant in Austin.

-- Excellence in opinion journalism in the metro area: The Star Tribune and Jill Burcum. The March 23 editorial called for nonpartisan inquiry into ethics allegations in the Attorney General's office.

-- Excellence in opinion journalism in greater Minnesota: The Morrison County Record and Tom West. The editorial expressed supported the idea that all citizens have the right to refute elected government officials and the court system.

-- Graven Award for special recognition: Brad Swenson, political editor and opinion page editor of The Bemidji Pioneer. "No politician comes to Bemidji without making sure they meet with Brad," the Minnesota Journalism Center said in a statement.

-- Farr Award for exceptional contribution to public affairs journalism: and its editor and chief executive, Joel Kramer. is a not-for-profit company that provides covers public affairs exclusively on the Internet. Kramer has been the executive editor, publisher and president of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

An award ceremony will be held April 20 at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. The winning journalists receive a $250 check, and each winning media outlet receives a special citation.

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