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>APB Wins First SPJ Award for Online Breaking News Coverage

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Reprinted with permission from:

APB Wins Top Journalism Honor
First SPJ Award for Online Breaking News

April 14, 1999

NEW YORK (APBnews.com) -- APB Online and its APBnews.com editorial department have won the Society of Professional Journalists' national Sigma Delta Chi award for the year's best online deadline news coverage.

Sigma Delta Chi award
Highest national journalism award ever won by a stand-alone online news service.
Announced Tuesday at SPJ's headquarters in Greencastle, Ind., the award marks the first time the 90-year-old journalism organization has honored online deadline news reporting. The honor is also the highest national journalism award ever won by a stand-alone news Web site without print or broadcast origins.

Mary Giles, director of SPJ memberships and awards, said the contest judges wrote that APB Online had "combined old fashioned breaking news teamwork with the rich media and instant distribution power of the Web to produce a user experience that newspapers or broadcast media couldn't match."

The judges went on to note that APBnews.com's Internet-based newsroom had "beat the old media at its own game."

"This is truly an extraordinary event for APBnews.com as well as for America's rapidly evolving online news industry," said APBnews.com Executive Editor Hoag Levins. "Our staff is incredibly proud to be recognized by such a prestigious organization of mainstream news journalists."

FBI Sinatra files

The award was for APBnews.com's December coverage of the release of Frank Sinatra's FBI files.

Within hours of being the first news organization to pick up a raw copy of those documents, APB Online had all 1,275 pages available on its Web site in both Adobe Acrobat and pagable GIF format. At the same time, a team of APBnews.com reporters and a former CIA analyst retained by APBnews.com produced a breaking news series of articles exploring the files' crime-related content.

Frank Sinatra mugshot
Frank Sinatra's 1938 mugshot from the APBnews.com report.
Among other things, APBnews.com revealed that J. Edgar Hoover was so obsessed with Sinatra that he kept his own personal dossier on the New Jersey singer, and that decades of FBI investigation failed to significantly link Sinatra to the mobsters he was long accused of associating with.

Destroyed documents

In addition, APBnews.com reported that the FBI destroyed 141 pages of Sinatra records before releasing the file, and that available evidence suggested that the pages may have documented the unsuccessful efforts of the Hoover-era agency to build a case of treason against the singer.

Other winners in the online news reporting categories were CNN Interactive for its Web site version of the CNN television documentary, Cold War (online non-deadline reporting), and the Chicago Tribune Internet Edition for its investigation of child sponsorship organizations (online public service).

APB Online is an independent news Web site that provides daily coverage of a broad range of criminal justice events, trends, personalities and issues. Launched in November and located at either www.apbonline.com or www.apbnews.com, APB Online maintains its headquarters and national newsroom in Manhattan. It is staffed by editors and reporters with newspaper, magazine and broadcast news experience.

Largest journalism organization

The Society of Professional Journalists is the nation's largest journalism organization. Its 13,500 members are advocates of strict ethics and high quality in journalism as well as a free press.

Each year, SPJ's Sigma Delta Chi awards honor excellence in print, broadcast and, now, online journalism.

This year's winners in other media formats include The Wall Street Journal for its story on the chemical sterilization of Third World women, Time magazine for its series on government handouts to corporations, CBS Radio News for its coverage of the African embassy bombings, ABC News 20/20 for its report on government seizures of private property.

The awards will be presented at the SPJ annual national convention, Oct. 3-5 in Indianapolis, Ind.

© 1999 APBnews.com