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JCOM Prof, SLTrib Photographer Win Journalism Ethics Award

April 16th, 2012 Posted in Opinion

LaPlante’s stories on ‘mingi’—Ethiopian infanticide—win Ancil Payne Prize from UOregon

EUGENE, Ore.—Journalists Matthew LaPlante of the USU Department of Journalism & Communication, and Rick Egan of The Salt Lake Tribune are winners of the 2012 Ancil Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism.

LaPlante and Rick Egan will share a 2012 Ancil Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism for their efforts to document the ritual killing of “cursed” children in Ethiopia’s South Omo River Valley. A 2012 Ancil Payne Award also goes to the Yancey County News, which, in 15 months of operation, has established itself as a check on corrupt local law enforcement.

When Egan and LaPlante chose to report on the ritual killing of mingi, or “cursed,” children in Ethiopia – a story that had previously been unnoticed by world media – they first approached their employer, The Salt Lake Tribune, for funding but were turned down.  Without employer support, fellowships were unavailable, so the pair embarked on the story as freelancers.

The two cashed in vacation days, tapped savings—LaPlante even quit his job at the paper—to pursue the story, which was eventually published by CNN. LaPlante started as an assistant professor in the JCOM Department in August after his Ethiopia trip.

Broaching a sensitive subject through a translator, discovering illegal adoptions, and the potential for being present when a child was killed were only a few of the ethical challenges the reporters contemplated before they commenced their reporting.

In addition to their willingness to risk their economic security, the judges applauded Egan and LaPlante for their careful consideration of the ethical issues in advance.

“Having resolved their ethical dilemmas in advance of leaving the U.S., these journalists were able to report this tragic story in a way that was direct and very effective,” the judges said.

More on the Ancil Payne Award and judging

See Hard News Café stories on “mingi” and LaPlante and Egan’s reporting


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