Cox Institute bestows national journalism award on student reporter and newspaper

Athens, Ga. – Washington State University’s student newspaper, The Daily Evergreen, and one of its reporters have been selected as winners of the inaugural Betty Gage Holland Award. The national award, administered by the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, is given for protecting the integrity of public dialogue on America’s college campuses.

The Daily Evergreen and reporter Brian Everstine used public records requests and solid reporting to reveal the forced resignation of the university’s vice president of student affairs. A Washington State University announcement had stated merely that the administrator requested and was granted a leave of absence with pay, a detail that was buried in a press release announcing the appointment of an interim vice president for student affairs.

A series of news stories in The Daily Evergreen detailed how the departing vice president was asked to resign and would be paid $142,000 as part of a negotiated settlement. The student newspaper’s reporting and use of public records “sent a powerful message to the university’s administration and president about truthfulness and candor,” wrote Alan Donnelly, general manager of student publications at WSU, in support of the winning entry.

“Everstine and The Daily Evergreen caught administrators bending, massaging and ignoring the truth,” added John Irby, associate director of undergraduate studies at WSU’s Edward R. Murrow School of Communication.

The Betty Gage Holland Award is sponsored by the James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Newspaper Management Studies in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. The annual award honors the late Betty Gage Holland, long-time friend of journalism education at the University of Georgia.

Conrad Fink, director of the Cox Institute and professor of journalism at Grady College, said The Daily Evergreen and reporter Everstine set an example every campus newspaper in the country should follow. “They sniffed out news that officialdom tried to underplay, then followed the trail to an important story that their campus public had a right and need to know. That is outstanding journalism,” he said.