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SBM Congratulates Winners of the 36th Annual McCree Awards for Justice

4/21/10

The Detroit Free Press won two Wade H. McCree Jr. Awards for the advancement of justice, uncovering abuses in the city's two public pension funds and for chronicling the legal and financial troubles of some Detroit City Council members.

The Lansing State Journal also won a print/online entry McCree Award for a multimedia series on a 1977 Dansville, Michigan domestic violence case that was the catalyst for legal changes throughout the nation. The McCree broadcast category winner was WJRT-TV 12 in Flint for a two-year series on a new, innovative court designed to keep families together.

Charles Toy, president of the State Bar of Michigan, presented the 36th annual McCree Awards at the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on April 18 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. The McCree Awards are given each year to foster greater public understanding of the inherent values of our legal and judicial system. They are named in honor of Judge Wade H. McCree Jr., who was dedicated to protecting the role of a free press in a free society. During his career, in which he served as a federal judge, law professor, and Solicitor General of the United States, he helped found the awards, which were renamed to honor him after his death in 1987.

Detroit Free Press reporters Jennifer Dixon and Tina Lam of the Free Press won a McCree Award for their 14-month-long investigation into questionable investment, lavish travel, and lack of ethics policies in Detroit's two public pension funds. The series was the basis for some recently introduced bills in the Michigan Legislature that could dismantle the funds and bring them under the management of a nonprofit trust. See their investigation here.

The Lansing State Journal won for a multimedia series called "Unmasking the Violence: The Case That Awakened a Nation." The 1977 case involved a Dansville woman named Francine Hughes, who gained national attention by killing her ex-husband by setting him on fire. She was found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity by a Lansing jury. The domestic violence case was later immortalized by the made-for-TV movie "Burning Bed" starring Farrah Fawcett. Four journalists worked on the series—Ryan Loew, Louise Knott Ahern, Cody Hinze, and Jamee Urrea. View their multimedia piece here.

The Free Press won a second McCree Award for a series of articles chronicling the legal and financial troubles of some Detroit City Council members. The articles were anchored by M.L. Elrick, who was assisted by Jim Schaefer, Rochelle Riley, Naomi Patton, and Gina Damron. Elrick and Schaefer, past McCree Award winners, won the Pulitzer Prize last year for their investigative series that helped topple Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's administration.

In the broadcast category, the McCree Award went to anchor Angie Hendershot and photojournalist Christopher Carr of WJRT-TV 12 of Flint for a series called "Baby Court." Hendershot and Carr followed a few young families' years-long journeys to regain custody of their children with the help of a new, innovative court championed by the late Hon. Robert Weiss, chief probate judge in Genesee County. See their series here.

In addition to the above awards, a special honorable mention was given to Craig McMorris of WNEM-TV 5 in Saginaw for his series on 93-year-old Marvin Schur, who froze to death in his Bay City home when the power company limited the electricity.

Visit SBM News' Facebook page to see a full photo album of the event.

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