Hertzberg Wins Costa Courtroom Award For The Fourth Time

May 11, 2007

RACINE, WI – Mark Hertzberg has won the Joseph Costa Award for Courtroom Photography for an unprecedented fourth time since 1987.

In the 20 years that Ball State University has given the award, Hertzberg is the first photographer to have won the prize four times (in 1987, 2001, 2006, and this year). Hertzberg is the director of photography for The Journal Times in Racine, WI.

The annual award, which is given by the Journalism Department of Ball State University, honors the ideals of Joseph Costa, a founder of the National Press Photographers Association and former lecturer in the Department of Journalism, who led a crusade to give photojournalists an equal footing with reporters in the nation’s courtrooms.

This time Hertzberg won the award for his coverage of the Adrial White trial. “Adrial White shot at three young men who were trying to steal a speaker box from his girlfriend's car at about 4:30 a.m. on a bitterly cold winter morning,” Hertzberg said. “He killed one, and wounded another. All had been shot from behind. The man who was killed was shot as he was lying on the ground, possibly after tripping over the spare tire they had tossed out of the trunk.”

From jury selection until the verdict a week later, Hertzberg used his laptop computer to transmit photos from the courtroom. In announcing the award, The Journal Times said that while the newspaper was limited in the number of pictures it could publish in the print edition, dozen’s of Hertzberg’s photographs were published online throughout the trial.

“The crime polarized the community, as many people applauded White's action. He had asserted that he acted in self-defense, but the jury rejected that argument. We normally only shoot a head shot of the defendant in civilian clothes on the first day of trial (rather than keep using the photo from the first court appearance in which they are in jail clothes) and then cover the verdict, but I decided to cover this gavel to gavel because of the community interest. We set a record for the number of blogs in response to the story, on our Web site.”

“I brought my laptop to court to edit during recesses, rather than leave it until the end of the day, and was delighted to find that the courtroom had WiFi,” Hertzberg said. “I started transmitting back during jury selection and we used about two dozen photographs on the Web the first day, and maybe a dozen or so each day the rest of the week, transmitting throughout the day during key testimony.”

White, 30, was found guilty of first-degree intentional homicide for killing one of the three men he shot at, Christopher "Eric" Carbajal, and was sentenced to life in prison with the first possibility for release not coming until January 7, 2032.

Hertzberg is the author and photographer of Wright in Racine (Pomegranate, 2004) about the famous master architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The book evolved from his 'Wright in Racine' slide show and lecture, which he has presented across the Midwest, and at a variety of Wright sites, including Taliesin.

He came to The Journal Times from the Beloit Daily News in 1978, and he interned at the Baltimore News-American in 1969. He was active in the effort to have Wisconsin's courtrooms opened to newspaper and television photographers in 1978, and has been a media coordinator with the cameras in court program since then. In 1998 he was awarded a Golden Gavel Award by the Wisconsin State Bar Association for his work on a story that took readers behind the scenes at the Wisconsin Supreme Court. In 1998 he received the Robert H. Dumke Award for "distinguished contributions in visual communications" from the Wisconsin News Photographers Association.

Hertzberg was also one of the original photojournalists to take part in a 1998 groundbreaking Web project, Behind The Viewfinder: A Year In The Life Of Photojournalism, produced by award-winning new media consultant Fritz Nordengren. The project documented 10 photojournalists around America who worked in print and television photojournalism as they kept daily online journals about their lives and experiences and images for a year, and it was one of the first photojournalism Blogs of its time.

The photographer is a native of New York City and has a degree in International Relations from Lake Forest College, and is on the Board of Directors of Frank Lloyd Wright in Wisconsin. Hertzberg, an avid bicyclist, has been an elected member of the NPPA board of directors, serving several terms, and is a long-time member who joined NPPA in 1973.