NPPA Names Annual Honor And Recognition Award Winners

Michel du Cille, Julie Jones, Melissa Lyttle, Mickey H. Osterreicher, and John S. Hyjek are some of this year's winners of NPPA's top honors.
Michel du Cille, Julie Jones, Melissa Lyttle, Mickey H. Osterreicher, and John S. Hyjek are some of this year's winners of NPPA's top honors.

ATHENS, GA (February 5, 2015) – The National Press Photographers Association’s annual Honors & Recognitions were announced today by NPPA past president Michael Borland, chairman of the Honors & Recognitions Committee. 

Julie Jones is the recipient of the Joseph Costa Award, Melissa Lyttle is the winner of the Clifton C. Edom Award, Mickey H. Osterreicher is this year’s winner of the Alicia Calzada First Amendment Award, and John S. Hyjek is the Jim Gordon Editor of the Year. And Michael Laughlin and Mark Wetzel will be presented with NPPA’s Humanitarian Award. 

NPPA’s highest annual honor, the Joseph A. Sprague Memorial Award, was announced in January during a memorial service for Washington Post staff photojournalist Michel du Cille, 58, who collapsed and died December 11 in rural Liberia while covering the Ebola crisis. A three-time Pulitzer Prize-winner and a member of the National Press Photographers Foundation’s board of directors, du Cille spent decades as an NPPA volunteer and a mentor and career coach to countless young photojournalists.

NPPA’s annual Honors & Recognitions will be presented March 14, 2015, during the NPPA Northern Short Course in Fairfax, VA.

Jones, of the Gaylord College of Journalism at the University of Oklahoma, receives the award named after NPPA’s founder. The Joseph Costa Award is given for outstanding initiative, leadership, and service in advancing NPPA’s goals in Costa’s tradition. Jones is an associate professor at the Gaylord College and is the national chairperson of NPPA’s annual News Video Workshop. 

A former television photojournalist and producer, Jones was one of ten professors nationwide named as Kappa Alpha Theta’s Outstanding Faculty in 2012. Her doctorate degree is from the University of Minnesota, and she holds a master’s degree from Arizona State University. She assumed the chair of the News Video Workshop in 2013. The NPPA workshop has been hosted on OU’s Norman campus since film professor Ned Hockman brought it there in 1964.

Photojournalist Melissa Lyttle, the winner of this year’s Clifton C. Edom Award, is based in Tampa Bay, FL. She was elected NPPA’s vice president in January during the board of directors’ meeting at NPPA’s new headquarters at the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia in Athens. Established in 1991, the award recognizes an individual in the tradition of Cliff Edom, spotlighting someone who inspires and motivates members of the photojournalism community to reach new heights. Edom taught at the University of Missouri for 29 years where he founded the University of Missouri Photojournalism Workshop as well as the Pictures of the Year competition.

Attorney Osterreicher is this year’s winner of the Alicia Calzada First Amendment Award. The honor was created to acknowledge those who stand up in the face of the growing numbers of assaults upon the First Amendment rights that we share as journalists. Calzada, now an attorney herself, was NPPA’s president in 2005. Osterreicher, who has testified before Congressional committees on copyright, First Amendment rights, and drones, took to the streets of Ferguson, MO, in August 2014 to help protect the rights of photographers who were covering the weeks of civil unrest that followed the police shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. Earlier, Osterreicher was recognized with NPPA's highest honor when he was named the winner of the Joseph A. Sprague Award for 2013.

The Jim Gordon Editor of the Year 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.

Hyjek, a 25-year veteran of NBC News who is this year’s Jim Gordon winner, was an NPPA News Video Workshop faculty member from 1995 to 2009. He was NPPA’s Video Editor of the Year three times, won three Cine Golden Eagles along with a Headliner Award, an “Iris” award from the National Association of Television Program Executives, a “Crystal” award for photography from Eastman Kodak, and multiple gold medals at film festivals in Houston, New York, and San Francisco. And he won four National Emmys, his first for Individual Achievement in Editing while still working at a local station, KARE-TV in Minneapolis.  He’s also been nominated for National Emmys in Individual Achievement for Photography, Sound Recording and Mixing. 

Photojournalists Michael Laughlin and Mark Wetzel each receive NPPA's Humanitarian Award this year. The award is presented to an individual for playing a key role in the saving of lives or in rescue situations.

Laughlin, of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, is being recognized for his ongoing work in Haiti, honoring the personal sacrifices and efforts he and his family have made over the years to improve the lives of Haitian orphans. 

On March 7, 2004, Laughlin was shot three times and severely wounded while covering election violence in Port-au-Prince. He lived only because Haitian bystanders dragged him to a nearby house and hid him from gunmen. They wanted to kill an American, and not finding Laughlin they shot and killed a Spanish journalist. Laughlin and his Samaritan rescuer escaped with the help of the Red Cross. 

Three months after he was shot, Laughlin returned to Haiti to thank the people who saved his life. Over the last decade Laughlin has returned to Haiti more than 40 times, bringing Haitians to South Florida for medical care, adopting a Haitian daughter, Nathalie Jean, and starting an orphanage in Gonaives that today is home to 12 boys and girls.

Wetzel, of KSL-TV in Salt Lake City, UT, will also be presented with the Humanitarian Award. While driving to pick up his daughter in June 2013, Wetzel happened upon an older home where smoke was billowing from the eaves. He stopped, called 911, and went to the porch where there was another man who stopped was also calling 911. Entering the home they found a confused older woman who was walking around in her living room asking if her house was on fire. They helped her out of the burning house, and Wetzel returned inside to search for a man she said also lived there. The photographer found the man, who was putting on his shoes, and got him out of the building. As Wetzel escorted the man – who was now carrying a cat – out of the structure, the side of the home was fully engulfed in flames. Moments later the fire rapidly spread to the rest of the building and its garage.

In other NPPA annual awards, David Nolan of Texas State University in San Marcos is the recipient of the Robin F. Garland Educator Award. The honor recognizes outstanding service in photojournalism education in memory of Garland, a picture editor and war correspondent for the Saturday Evening Post until he joined Graflex Inc. as a press technical representative after World War II. Later, Garland was a press photography products specialist for Eastman Kodak Co.

Nolan teaches graduate and undergraduate classes in visual communication, media design, photojournalism, visual storytelling, and digital video production in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University, where he received his doctorate degree in Education. He has been instrumental in hosting NPPA’s Advanced Storytelling Workshop each year at Texas State, and he designed a semester course for his students based on the teachings of the ASW, incorporating the week-long seminar and its faculty into the classroom.

Nolan’s professional career as a military combat photographer and editor spanned 24 years across conflicts in Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Bosnia, and his last deployment was to the Middle East three days after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. After serving as photography director for the U.S. Air Force magazine Airman for many years, Nolan retired from military service in 2003.

California State University at Fullerton communications professor Paul Martin Lester is the recipient of this year’s Kenneth P. McLaughlin Award of Merit. The award is given to those rendering continuing 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. Lester is the author or editor of several books including Digital Innovations for Mass Communications: Engaging the User (2014), and Visual Communication Images With Messages (sixth edition, 2013). He has a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a doctorate degree in mass communication from Indiana University.

Kenneth Cooke, NPPA’s president in 1978 and vice president in 1977, will receive this year’s Burt Williams Award. Williams was a photographer for the Cleveland News and Plain Dealer, the Pittsburgh Press, and the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph. The award honors a news photographer who has completed at least 40 years of service to photojournalism. Cooke has been previously recognized by NPPA with the Joseph A. Sprague Memorial Award in 1982, with two President's Medals, and in 1981 he was personally presented the Joseph Costa Award by Joseph Costa himself during NPPA's meeting in St. Louis.

After serving in the Army and in Korea, Cooke was a staff photographer and photography director in Raleigh Times and Observer for 17 years before joining the staff The Fayetteville Observer. He retired from the Fayetteville newspaper in 1994. Cooke was NPPA's president in 1978 and vice president in 1977. He was appointed as NPPA's military liaison in 1992, and was presented with NPPA's highest honor, the Joseph A. Sprague Memorial Award, in 1982. NPPA also honored Cooke during his career with the Samuel Mellor Award in 1975 and the President's Award in 1981.

Danese Kenon, the assistant managing editor for visuals at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, is the winner of this year’s John Durniak Mentor Citation. The honor recognizes John Durniak for being a mentor in the finest tradition of NPPA, and Kenon for being a leader who embodies this ethic. Durniak was the photography director for Time magazine, and a picture editor for The New York Times, who died in 1997 at the age of 68.

A graduate of Virginia State University and a former Poynter Institute for Media Studies visual fellow, Kenon was a Chips Quinn Scholar in 2000 at The Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester, NY. After three years at the newspaper she attended the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University where she earned a master's in photography. The award of a Pulliam Journalism Fellowship took her to The Indianapolis Star, where she remained for eight years before joining the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In January, Kenon was appointed to a one-year term on NPPA’s board of directors. 

Rita Reed of the University of Missouri School of Journalism is the recipient of this year’s Morris Berman Citation. The honor is presented to recognize special contributions that advance the interests of photojournalism. Berman was a past president of NPPA as well as the Press Photographers Association of Greater Pittsburgh. Before his death in 2002, he had attended all of NPPA’s annual conventions. Reed is the director of the College Photographer of the Year competition, and in 1993 she was the recipient of the Nikon Sabbatical Grant for Documentary Photography. She joined the UM photojournalism faculty in 2001 after 20 years as a photojournalist with the Minneapolis Star Tribune and in Cedar Rapids, IA, with The Gazette. 

Dave Wertheimer of KING5-TV in Seattle is the winner of this year’s Sam Mellor Award. A longtime NPPA volunteer at NPPA’s News Video Workshop at the Gaylord College at the University of Oklahoma. The honor is named after NPPA’s second national treasurer, who set an example of devotion to NPPA’s ideals and volunteerism. Wertheimer was the workshop’s co-chair for many years. A leading advocate of safety in the workplace, Wertheimer produced the video “Look Up And Live,” a safety training course for television live truck operators. 

Inventor Nick Woodman, the founder and CEO of GoPro, will be honored with the J. Winton Lemen Fellowship Award. It is presented to those who render continuing outstanding service in the interests of press photography, and for outstanding technical achievements in photography. Lemen was a charter member of NPPA and a former Sprague Award winner. After a career as a press photographer he established the photo press markets division of Eastman Kodak Co.

NPPA Special Citations are awarded to an individual or organization for making significant contributions that advance the interests of photojournalism. The recipients of Special Citations this year are Mark Edelson, multimedia director for The Palm Beach Post, and the slain journalist James Foley.

Edelson joined The Post in 1993 as a picture editor and was named presentation editor in 2000. In 2009 he was named the Post's multimedia director. He’s a nine-time Newspaper Picture Editor of the Year (twice at the University of Missouri’s Pictures of the Year, five times at NPPA’s Picture Editing Quarterly Clip Contest, and twice in NPPA's Best Of Photojournalism contest). Edelson has been a tireless volunteer for NPPA, chairing the Picture Editing Quarterly Clip Contest for many years while inspiring and mentoring many young photographers and picture editors.

Foley was an American video journalist working as a freelancer covering the conflict in Syria when he was captured, tortured, and eventually beheaded by ISIS in August 2014. Before his journalism career Foley was an instructor for Teach For America, and a graduate of Marquette University and Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism.

NPPA president Mark Dolan is awarding three President’s Medals this year, to Nancy Eskridge, Fatima NeJame, and Bill Kurtis. 

Eskridge was the longtime volunteer copy editor of News Photographer magazine, giving freely of her time to NPPA every month for 11 years, since the first issue after former editor Jim Gordon retired in May 2003. NeJame, of the Palm Beach Photographic Centre, is being honored for her support of last August’s NPPA Best Of Photojournalism Awards Show & Education Festival. And former CBS News anchor Kurtis is being recognized for his time and contributions while doing the voice-over for NPPA’s new research video project, “The Value Of Professional Photojournalism.”