We’ve got winners

Jun 27, 2001 at 12:00 am
The Metro Times received six Excellence in Journalism prizes from the Society of Professional Journalists at the organization’s annual banquet last week. We congratulate Ann Mullen, Curt Guyette, Jack Lessenberry, Keith A. Owens and Richard C. Walls.

Mullen took a first place in general reporting/non-daily for her cover story "Under the gun" (April 5-11, 2000). The report details the shooting of the unarmed Johnny Crenshaw by police officer Jerold Blanding in a bank parking lot and goes on to question how well the police investigated the incident before concluding the shooting was justified. Mullen’s reporting led to the county prosecutor taking another look at the case, although Blanding was again exonerated. Crenshaw sued the city and received a $500,000 settlement.

Mullen's story was the first of a series of media reports last year on numerous police shootings of citizens that brought public pressure to bear on the Detroit Police Department. The result was Mayor Dennis Archer asking the federal Justice Department to investigate the department. That investigation is ongoing.

Guyette's second place story in the same category, "Shot in the Dark" (Dec. 6-12, 2000), detailed the lethal shooting of Detroit resident Billy Gissendanner by officer Eric Ewing. There were several points of doubt in the police version of the killing including the claim that Gissendanner threatened officers with a knife. His wife Tina and other family members have sued Ewing in a civil case that goes to trial this week.

In all other categories the Metro Times competed directly with the largest daily newspapers in southeast Michigan. Jack Lessenberry took a second place for his weekly "Politics & Prejudices" column, which garners more hate mail and love letters than any other Metro Times feature. Richard C. Walls took a second place in criticism for several of his film and music pieces.

Owens, who writes the biweekly column "Free Your Mind," won a third place in feature writing for his two-part comprehensive series on the history of Detroit blues (July 26-Aug. 1 and Aug. 2-8, 2000) which is also set to be reprinted by the national magazine Living Blues. Our spot on the World Wide Web, www.metrotimes.com, took a third place for Web sites.