KUAR, Arkansas Public Media reporters bring home SPJ Diamond Journalism Awards

Reporters from KUAR, one of two University of Arkansas at Little Rock public radio stations, and Arkansas Public Media, also based at UA Little Rock, won several Diamond Journalism Awards. The awards program is a regional annual competition sponsored by the Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists

The awards, which were presented Oct. 25 at Little Rock’s Flying Saucer, recognize outstanding journalism by professionals and students from Arkansas and bordering media markets in Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. The awards honor work published or broadcast between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018.

Karen Steward, former content development director for UA Little Rock Public Radio, won three awards for her outstanding reporting. She took home first place for the radio/podcasts documentary/investigative reporting category for her story, “Physician’s opioid prescribing habits, behavior raise doubt over standards for Arkansas doctors.”

Judge Ginny Frizzi described the story as one that needed to be told and will hopefully be heard by many people.

“This expose of a physician who easily prescribes opioids — and in large quantities — is a story that needs to be told … and fortunately this entry tells it well,” Frizzi said. “Solid reporting explores the current situation completely … from his prescription practices to how the state medical board ineffectively deals with it.”

Steward took home another first place award in the radio/podcasts feature category for her story, “After lost scores are found in abandoned house, musicians give life to Florence Price’s music.”

Her final award was second place in the radio/podcasts news category for her story, “Startling stats on bullying, suicide and sexual assault give Arkansas school safety panel huge task.”

Michael Hibblen, news director of KUAR, won second place in the radio/podcasts feature category for his story detailing the commemoration events for the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School.

Reporters from Arkansas Public Media also won four Diamond Journalism Awards. Bobby Ampezzan, former managing editor for Arkansas Public Media, won two awards. First, he received third place in the radio/podcasts documentary/investigative reporting category for his story on the state’s medical marijuana standstill.

The judges described the story as an “informative look at the medical marijuana situation in Arkansas and how people are traveling to nearby states for their medical marijuana because it is not available at home.”

Ampezzan also received third place in the radio/podcasts – news category for his story, “Republican dominance, open primaries make one party’s picks ripe for crossover vote.

Jacqueline Froelich, who is based at partner station KUAF in Fayetteville, won first place in the radio/podcasts news category for her story, “Questions as U.S. wood pellet makers expand production.”

Ann Kendra, who is based at partner station KASU in Jonesboro, took third place in the radio/podcasts feature category for her story, “Arkansas ranchers celebrate reopening of large, lucrative China market.” The story covered Arkansas beef being sold in China following a ban related to mad cow disease.

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