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SEPTEMBER 11, 2003

NLGJA Announces 2003 Excellence in Journalism Award Winners

Lifetime Achievement Award Presented to
Kevin Thomas, LA Times Film Critic

New Award Given in Memory of Out Magazine’s
Founding Editor Sarah Pettit


Los Angeles, CA (September 11, 2003) – Tomorrow evening, Friday, September 12, the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) will honor veteran Los Angeles Times film critic Kevin Thomas with its Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding work over the past four decades and his long commitment to NLGJA. Film legend Gena Rowlands will be on hand to present Thomas with his award.

Marking a new milestone, the first Out/The Advocate Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for Excellence in LGBT Media – along with a $1,000 cash grant – also will be presented to writer Patrick Letellier for his scholarly intellect, razor-sharp wit and significant contributions to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender media.

The Hollywood ceremony is anticipated to be the capstone of this year’s 2003 Excellence in Journalism Awards, a program that recognizes the year’s best work in gay-related journalism. It will be held at the Hollywood History Museum, as part of the 2003 NLGJA National Convention.

“NLGJA chose to give this lifetime honor to express our admiration for a man who has been an unsung champion of gay-related cinema,” said NLGJA President Steven Petrow. “Kevin Thomas also has been a member of NLGJA since the organization’s beginning. He has honored us by accepting this award.” Petrow noted that the award has only been given once before, to the late Randy Shilts — the pioneering gay columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle and the author of “And the Band Played On.”

Petrow also warmly lauded Sarah Pettit’s memory and thanked LPI Media, and its flagship publications, for generously supporting the first NLGJA prize singling out LGBT media achievements. Citing Pettit, Petrow said, “When she spoke out, as she often did on gay issues, about women and about journalism, Sarah spoke with an intellectual rigor and passion that was persuasive to anyone within earshot. NLGJA honors not only her memory, but her commanding and unquiet voice for all LGBT journalism.”

NLGJA also officially disclosed the recipients of its 2003 Excellence in Journalism Awards, which include $500 first prizes in six separate categories (as well as a $1,000 first prize presented in the category of LGBT Media). All other winners receive award citations. Established in 1993 to foster, recognize and reward excellence in journalism on issues related to the gay and lesbian community, the categories are: Written News/Feature, Written Opinion/Editorial, Radio, Television, Photojournalism, New Media and LGBT Media.

2003 NLGJA Excellence in Journalism Awards winners include:

Excellence in Writing Award for News/Feature
Sponsored by the Hearst Newspapers

Judges: Anne Glover, St. Petersburg Times; Carole Leigh Hutton, Detroit Free Press; Darrell Proctor, Rocky Mountain News; Elaine Walker, Miami Herald

First Place presented to Adam Geller, The Associated Press, “Call Me Maggie.”

    Judges comment: “A great read from beginning to end. This story crisply and effectively took a workplace issue that is becoming more common and showed how all involved struggle to adjust to their new circumstances.”

Second Place presented Kevin Koffler, Poz Magazine, “Life vs. Meth.”

    Judges comment: “Informative. Powerful. Scary. It bolstered an already compelling story of a man’s descent into addiction with thorough and exhaustive reporting on a topic of growing importance.”

Third Place presented to Valarie Honeycutt Spears and Frank E. Lockwood, Lexington Herald-Leader (KY), “Quad Dads.”

    Judges comment: “Very strong reporting, especially in convincing the surrogate mother to share her story. Took a pretty hot topic and never dumbed it down for the readers or treated it in a salacious manner.”


Excellence in Writing Award for Opinion/Editorial

Judges: Jon East, St. Petersburg Times; Michael Kuchwara, The Associated Press; David Moats, Rutland (VT) Herald; Steve Rothaus, The Miami Herald; Karen Zautyk, New York Daily News

First Place presented to Andrew Sullivan, Time Magazine, “The ‘Invisible’ Man.”

    Judges comment: “Crisp, thought-provoking and able to balance the emotional and intellectual,” in this commentary about civil rights activist Bayard Rustin.

Second Place presented to Steve Blow, The Dallas Morning News, for several columns.

    Judges comment: “It’s not easy being generous and thought-provoking at the same time but Steve Blow does that in his columns that examine gay life from a straight perspective…willing to be open-minded about those who are different from what is seen as ‘the norm.’”

Third Place presented to Euan Bear, Out in the Mountains, “Passing On,” and “Making a Difference.”

    Judges comment: “A simple well-told story that paints a vivid portrait of a loving man and his family.” (Passing On) “I have read and written numerous columns and editorials on the topic of voting. I have never read or been able to write one this persuasive.” (Making a Difference)


The Seigenthaler/NLGJA Excellence in Radio Award

Judges: Stu Chamberlain, ABC News/Radio; Bob Hardt, ABC News/Radio; Steve Rosen, Star-Rosen public relations; John Witmer, ABC News/Radio

First Place presented to Scott Shafer and Alex Cohen, KQED-FM, The California Report, “Gay Rugby.”

    Judges comment: “This represents the best in journalism. Excellent example of tight writing and production. The story moves and does not get bogged down in long sound bites.”

Second Place presented to David Gilmore and Dmae Roberts, Public Radio International, “Out on the Streets.”

    Judges comment: “Not an easy piece, but executed beautifully. What makes the difference are the real interviews with real kids which could not possibly have been easy to do.”

Third Place presented to Tony Sarabia & Robbie Harris, WBEZ-FM Chicago Public Radio, “Inside/Out: About Face Youth Theater.”


The Seigenthaler/NLGJA Excellence in Television Award

Judges (Network and Top 5 DMAs): Enrique Cerna, Susan Han, Alice Ikeda, Greg Palmer, Cleve Ticeson, Jean Walkinshaw, KCTS Television (Seattle, WA); (DMA 6+) Michael Gay, WBBM-TV, Chicago; Jason Jedlinski, WGN-TV, Chicago; Sean Lewis, WTVO-TV, Rockford

First Place presented to Maria Hinijosa and Rose Arce, CNN, “Guardian Angel.”

    Judges comment: “This was a great story because it was so different from the typical gay, lesbian, transgender issues so many report on. It was a wonderful portrait of someone just living his life (as a gay man) and doing an extraordinary thing.”

Second Place presented to Mark Saxenmeyer, Darlene Hill, Kathleen Minnis, Lou Hinkhouse, Chris Davis and Leo Brucato, WFLD-TV FOX, “The Experiment: Gay and Straight.”

    Judges comment: “This is what ‘reality shows’ should be used for. What a great way to get real conversation and controversy out in the open.”

Third Place presented to Ken Miguel, KGO-TV, ABC Inc., “Ken Miguel Composite.”

    Judges comment: “Excellent enterprise reporting. The producer’s selection of stories that reflect national issues from the LGBT point of view is impressive.”


NLGJA Excellence in New Media Journalism Award
Sponsored by UNreal Marketing Solutions

Judges: Janice Castro, Medill School of Journalism; Josh Moss,; Leslie Walker; The Washington Post; Andrew Nachison, The Media Center at the American Press Institute; Deirdre Terry, CNN/

First Place presented to Jim Buzinski and Cyd Zeigler, Jr.,,


    Judges comment: “ has become an influential national source of information about LGBT athletes and their sports activities as well as homophobia in college sports. It is a credit to journalism and new media.”

Second Place presented to Seth Mnookin,,

“Is Rolling Stone’s HIV Story Wildly Exaggerated?”

    Judges comment: “…very well written and reported and contained a distinct, but not off putting point of view. This story represents something journalists should do more of: question one another.”


NLGJA Excellence in Photojournalism Award
Sponsored by Eastman Kodak Company

Judges: Timothy Baker, The New York Times; Judy Borch, freelance photojournalist; Karen Mitchell, former AP-Chicago photo editor and now at University of Missouri; Cliff Schiappa, The Associated Press; Jodie Steck, The Dallas Morning News

First Place presented to David Stephenson, Lexington Herald-Leader (KY), “Fathers of Four”

    Judges comment: “Story showed a longer commitment by the photographer, following them before the birth of the babies to the community support, through pride and prejudice.”

Second Place presented to Kim Komenich, San Francisco Chronicle, “A Night to Remember”

    Judges comment: “Nice images; his sense of composition is very strong.”

Third Place presented to Christina Koci Hernandez, San Francisco Chronicle, “Free to be Fran”

    Judges comment: “I applaud the photographer for trying to photograph a very difficult subject.”


Out/The Advocate Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for Excellence in LGBT Media

Judges: Susan Hegger, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Marcus Mabry, Newsweek; John McMullen, OutQ Radio; Mike Signorile; Neda Ulaby, National Public Radio

First Place presented to Patrick Letellier.

    Judges comment: “Amazing. Patrick Letellier’s reporting displays an arresting breadth of knowledge. He combines scholarly intellect, razor-sharp wit and exhaustive journalism to create essays and long-form pieces that inform, delight and challenge readers – whether straight, gay, journalists, academics, pundits or ‘civilians.’”

Second Place presented to Andrew Holleran.

    Judges comment: “I appreciate Holleran’s nuanced approach, his eagerness to grapple with big-picture issues and the sophisticated exploration of his topics. I get the impression that there’s no such thing as a sacred cow for Holleran.”

Third Place presented to E. J. Graff.

    Judges comment: “Graff is a splendidly gifted writer whose humorous panache gilds her rigorous discussions of gay rights and rules. Her pieces are warm and thoughtful, meticulously researched and provocative.”


The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association is an organization of journalists, online media professionals, and students that works from within the journalism industry to foster fair and accurate coverage of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. NLGJA opposes workplace bias against all minorities and provides professional development for its members. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., NLGJA currently has more than 1,100 members and 19 chapters in the U.S., with affiliates in Canada and Germany. Information about NLGJA and its 2003 convention may be found at

Media contact: Pamela Strother, Executive Director, NLGJA
(202) 588-9888 ext. 11, cell: (202) 486-5990