A broadcast station, a newspaper and a war correspondent’s feature on an online news website received The American Legion’s Fourth Estate Award on Aug. 30 during the 94th National Convention in Indianapolis.
The Legion has presented the award annually since 1958 for outstanding achievement in the field of journalism. For the second year, nominations were considered in three categories: print, broadcast and new media (Internet).
Taking top honor in the print category for the second consecutive year was the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. A nine-month investigation and series of articles by reporter Carl Prine, himself an Army and Marine veteran who served in Iraq, revealed that warrior transition units were so overwhelmed that many soldiers suffering physically or mentally from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan got little or no help. They continued to suffer from post-traumatic stress, brain injuries, depression and other issues related to repeated combat deployments. The probe brought about congressional hearings, the resignation of a senior defense official and actions that led to significant improvements in the units. In 2011, the paper won for exposing shoddy conditions in Pennsylvania’s state-run veterans homes.
KLRT-TV (Little Rock, Ark.) news reporter Donna Terrell took top honor in the broadcast category with her reports, "Grieving a Child." Having recently lost her own daughter, she poignantly captured the emotional trauma of a military veteran and his wife who lost their small son to brain cancer, and provided valuable information about dealing with the painful process of losing a loved one.
In the new media category, freelance war correspondent Alex Quade’s video documentary for the website The Daily Caller, "Horse Soldiers of 9/11," revealed the special operations of military and CIA operatives in Afghanistan who responded after the 9/11 attacks, using horses in their behind-the-lines operations. Her report broke the story of a monument, capturing the essence of bravery, rising in testament to them near Ground Zero in New York. Vice President Joe Biden quoted Quade's story during the statue's official dedication ceremony.
“The American Legion Fourth Estate Award is difficult to earn,” National Commander Fang A. Wong said. “It is a testament to the demanding nature of the competition – and the quality of entries. Not only do the reports have to be informative and entertaining, they have to provide a tangible benefit to society.”
Previous winners of the award include Dateline NBC, C-SPAN, United Press International, USA TODAY, The Detroit News, Fortune magazine, ABC News and Life magazine, among others.