NPPA 2017 Awards Announced, Williamson and Kobre Named Sprague Award Winners

Michael Williamson, left, and Ken Kobre. Both are winners of the 2017 Joseph A. Sprague Memorial Award

ATHENS, GA (January 19, 2017) – The National Press Photographers Association’s highest honor, the Joseph A. Sprague Memorial Award, will be presented in 2017 to two individuals for their commitment to the craft of visual journalism and to education that advances the profession.

Michael Williamson, a staff photographer at the Washington Post, is a Sprague honoree who epitomized these standards. His professional awards include two Pulitzer prizes and numerous Photographer of the Year recognitions through the NPPA, POYi, and WHNPPA competitions. He also has a rare gift in the way he sees the world, and has been generous sharing his vision and inspiring others through countless workshops and presentations.

Ken Kobre, retired professor of photojournalism at San Francisco State University, is the other Sprague honoree. He is the author of Photojournalism: The Professionals’ Approach, now in its 7th edition. It has been the textbook for countless college students who were in their beginning stages of developing their understanding of the profession. He is also known for a new book, Videojournalism: Multimedia Storytelling, as well as innovations in other areas, such as Lightscoop and the VideoPro Camera App.

Established in 1949, the Sprague Award is NPPA's most prestigious honor. It recognizes individuals who advance and elevate photojournalism by their conduct, initiative, leadership, and skill, or for unusual service or achievement beneficial to photojournalism and technological advances. It honors Joseph A. Sprague, a press technical representative for the Graflex Corporation, who is credited with designing the Big Bertha, Magic Eye, and Combat Camera for the company as well as dozens of improvements and refinements to the original Graflex Speed Graphic 4x5 camera, which was once the press industry standard.

The Sprague Awards, along with NPPA’s other top honors, will be presented during a ceremony at NPPA’s Northern Short Course in Fairfax, VA. the beginning of March.

In addition to the Sprague Awards, NPPA’s other top honors and annual recognitions were also announced.

Lisa Berglund, the owner of Gold Dog Media, is the winner of the Clifton Edom Award. Berglund is the first and only woman to win the NPPA’s TV Photographer of the Year award. She is also known for her consistent commitment to give back to the photojournalism community. The Edom Award recognizes an individual in the tradition of University of Missouri photojournalism professor Cliff Edom to inspire and motivate members of the photojournalism community to reach new heights.

John Thain is the winner of the Joseph Costa Award. His tireless efforts have brought the NPPA TV Quarterly contest to our members, and the number of entrants and entries have grown every year under his leadership. He successfully navigated through the challenges of transitioning to the new NPPA competition website to provide the best possible experience for our TV entrants, including the creation of a TVQCC Facebook group. The Joseph Costa Award is named after NPPA’s founder. The Costa Award is given for outstanding initiative, leadership, and service in advancing the goals of NPPA in Costa’s tradition.

Donald R. Winslow has won the Jim Gordon Editor of the Year Award. Following in the footsteps of Jim Gordon himself as the editor of News Photographer Magazine, Winslow continued to produce the magazine with the same high standards and quality pioneered by Jim and raised the magazine to another level, with its dynamic display of tremendous photojournalism, insightful interviews, profiles and issues of the day. The Jim Gordon Editor of the Year Award award honors an outstanding newspaper, magazine, video, movie, web, book, or other publications editor who supports and promotes strong photojournalism, best use of photography, and whose individual dedication and efforts have moved photojournalism’s standards forward. It is named after Jim Gordon, who was NPPA’s News Photographer magazine editor for 25 years until he retired in 2003.

John Larson has been awarded the John Durniak Mentor Award for his incredible generosity in helping others achieve their goals - both in the broad sense of how he volunteers at countless workshops as an editor and coach, and on a much more personal level, offering advice and assistance on special projects of individual visual storytellers. the Durniak Award is given to an individual who has served as an outstanding photojournalism mentor. Durniak was executive editor of Popular Photography magazine, a picture editor at Time magazine and The New York Times, and the managing editor of Look. During his career he nurtured some of the most prominent photojournalists of the 20th Century.

Bethany Swain, a lecturer at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, has won the Robin F. Garland Educator Award for her dedication to her students, who have related about the breadth of professional knowledge she has shared with them. And not just from a technical perspective but also real “inside” advice and guidance about developing and maintaining relationships, both within the newsroom and with their subjects. She also done a wonderful job starting and advising Maryland’s very active and engaged NPPA student chapter, which is comprised primarily of students with a focus on broadcast photojournalism. The Garland Award is given for outstanding service as a photojournalism educator. Garland was a picture editor and war correspondent for the Saturday Evening Post until he joined Graflex Inc. as press technical representative after World War II. Later he became a press photography product specialist for Eastman Kodak Co. 

DJI Technology Inc. is awarded the J. Winton Lemen Award. DJI has been instrumental in developing products that visual journalists rely upon for news gathering, training our members and others in the safe use of sUAS, also known as drones. The Lemen Award is given in recognition of outstanding technical achievement supporting and advancing the best interest of the Visual Journalism community. Lemen was a charter member of the NPPA. In 1952, after a distinguished career as a news photographer at the Rocky Mountain News, Pittsburgh Press, and Buffalo Times, he established the photo press markets division of the Eastman Kodak Co. and served as the firm's liaison with news photographers.

Gabriel Green, an independent journalist, has won the NPPA Humanitarian award for his work in Greece, where he documented the refugee crisis. He stayed there for almost a year, continuing to document the refugees and also volunteering with NGOs to help those refugees. In one instance, his efforts resulted in the rescue of refugees whose boat had capsized.

The Alicia Calzada First Amendment Award has been award to Chuck Tobin, Joel Roberson and Christine Walz of the Holland and Knight law firm. The award recognize recognizes the work the three, and their firm, have done on sUAS issues, often representing the the NPPA on a Pro Bono basis. Their staunch advocacy for the legal use of drones for news gathering is greatly appreciated and respected. The award recognizes an individual who has worked to promote and advance the First Amendment, especially as it relates to news photographers. It is named after NPPA past president Alicia Wagner Calzada, the founder and longtime chair of NPPA's Advocacy Committee, who is now an attorney specializing in media law. 

Anne Herbst, a photojournalist at KUSA in Denver, is the winner of the Morris Berman Citation. She put in tireless effort in successfully resurrecting the Women in Photojournalism Conference. Through her commitment, she enabled a conference that benefitted all members of the visual storytelling community, with a focus on diversity in the voices of the presenters. The Berman Citation is given to individuals or organizations for special contributions that have advanced the interests of photojournalism. 

Kenneth P. McLaughlin Award of Merit has been award to Carolyn Hall. As NPPA Treasurer, she took herself out of her comfort zone and immersed in all aspects of the NPPA’s financial realities. She attacked the position in an effort tget on top of the intricacies of the organization’s budget at a very critical time for the NPPA. The McLaughlin Award is given to those who have rendered ongoing and outstanding service in the interests of news photography. McLaughlin, a photographer for the San Francisco Chronicle until his death in 1966, was the third president of the NPPA.

Phil Greer is the winner of the Bert Williams Award for his work at numerous papers, both large and small, throughout Illinois. He was Director of Photography at the Chicago Tribune, and continues to serve the industry as an educator at Southern Illinois University. The Burt Williams Award is in memory of one of NPPA’s founders and its first national secretary. It is given to a news photographer who has completed at least 40 years of service to the industry.

John Long Ethics Award is awarded to Fred Ritchin, Dean of the School at the International Center of Photography. John Long himself spoke of Ritchin's book, In Our Own Image, as a major in influence on his understanding of the ethics of digital manipulation, even before we had established the formal position of “Ethics Chair.” His work helped inform how we approached ethics for the NPPA over the next quarter of a century.

The Outstanding Student Chapter Award goes to the Howard University Student NPPA Chapter. Even though the chapter is in its first year, it has been extremely active and engaged, launching their own Pictures of the Year competition, hosting Geekfest and participating in regional and national photojournalism events.

NPPA Special Citations have been awarded to Jake May and Matt Gade. For May, the award recognizes his tireless efforts covering the water crisis in Flint, Michigan with empathy and insight. He also is recognized for his leadership with the Michigan Press Photographers Association, his position as NPPA Regional Chair or one of the many workshops he has volunteered to participate in. Gade is recognized for his tireless efforts in serving as the NPPA’s Central Region Clip chair, and the consistent timeliness in which he handles those responsibilities. including his diligence in communicating results with our members and posting them to our contest website.