Dennis Dimick, Chick Harrity To Receive NPPA’s Sprague Award

Charles "Chick" Harrity (left) and Dennis Dimick (Harrity photo by Yvonne Henry; Dimick photograph by Matt Busch)
Charles "Chick" Harrity (left) and Dennis Dimick (Harrity photo by Yvonne Henry; Dimick photograph by Matt Busch)

By Donald R. Winslow 

DURHAM, NC (January 31, 2013) – NPPA's most prestigious honor, the Joseph A. Sprague Memorial Award, has been presented this year to two of the industry’s most likable and significant trailblazers, longtime photojournalist Charles W. “Chick” Harrity, retired from U.S. News & World Report Magazine, and Dennis Dimick, the executive environment editor and the interim director of photography for National Geographic Magazine.

In addition to the Sprague Award winners, NPPA’s other top honors and recognitions were announced today as well. 

The inaugural winner of NPPA’s newest honor, the Alicia Calzada First Amendment Award, is Simon Glik. A Boston attorney, Glik was arrested in 2007 while recording police officers making an arrest in a public park. After the charges against him were dismissed he brought a federal civil rights lawsuit against the officers and Boston’s police  department. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit found in Glik’s favor in 2011 and set forth the self-evident First Amendment right for the public and press to record police while they are performing their official duties. Glik pursued the matter for five years on behalf of himself, visual journalists, and the public at large, and his case has been used many times since then to uphold the standard.

The Robin F. Garland Educator Award winners this year are Seth Gitner of Syracuse University and Randy Piland of Elon University. The 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.

William Auth was named the recipient of the Joseph Costa Award. It honors an individual for their outstanding initiative, leadership, and service in advancing the goals of NPPA in the tradition of Costa, NPPA’s founder and its first president and chairman of the board.

The Jim Gordon Editor of the Year Award goes to Colin Crawford of the Los Angeles Times. The honor is presented to the editor of an outstanding newspaper, magazine, video, movie, Web site, book, or other publication or broadcast that supports and promotes strong photojournalism, and best use of photography, and whose individual dedication and efforts have moved photojournalism's standards forward while also advancing the best interests of photographers.

The Outstanding NPPA Student Chapter this year is the student organization at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. The students rallied to document a tornado that went through their region and produced a book called “4:56 a.m. The Story of the February 29, 2012 Tornado.” Their book raised nearly $20,000 which the students elected to give back to the storm-damaged community. 

Brian Storm of MediaStorm was named the recipient of the Clifton C. Edom Award, which recognizes an individual in the tradition of Cliff Edom to inspire and motivate members of the photojournalism community to reach new heights.

John Harrington has received the J. Winton Lemen Fellowship Award, which honors those who have rendered continuing outstanding service in the interests of press photography.

New York Times senior photographer and LENS blog editor James Estrin has received the Kenneth P. McLaughlin Award of Merit. The award is given to those rendering continuing outstanding service in the interests of news photography. McLaughlin was NPPA’s third president.

Photojournalist Mannie Garcia has received the Morris Berman Citation, which is  given for special contributions advancing the interests of photojournalism. Garcia is pursuing a federal civil rights lawsuit against Montgomery County police and prosecutors that is the result of his unlawful arrest in June 2011.

The John Durniak Mentor Award goes to photojournalist Leighton Grant. The honor is given to an individual who has served as an outstanding mentor, either to a specific individual or to photojournalism in general. Grant is the chief photographer for WBTV-TV in Charlotte, NC.

And NPPA’s Humanitarian Award has been presented to Julia Xanthos for her efforts to chair and organize this year’s Hurricane Sandy fundraiser to help photojournalism colleagues who lost their homes to the massive storm last October. 

NPPA’s annual awards and honors will be presented during a Saturday evening reception at this year’s Northern Short Course on March 9, 2013, at the Renaissance Newark Airport Hotel in Elizabeth, NJ.

Sprague Award winner Harrity spent more than 33 years as a member of the White House press corps before retiring in 2001. At U.S. News & World Report, he was their chief photographer after joining the staff in 1981. For 16 years Harrity shot and edited for the Associated Press, starting in 1965 as an editor on AP’s New York desk, shooting for the AP in Albany in 1966 and Chicago in 1967 before transferring to the wire service’s Washington DC Bureau in 1968 to cover the White House. His photography career started at his hometown newspaper in Reading, PA, in 1956. 

"People always ask me what was the one picture that I remember most from my career, and for me it's an easy answer," Harrity told News Photographer magazine today. "It was 'The Baby In The Box' picture taken in Saigon in 1973. It proved to me the power that our photographs can have in telling and story, and sometimes they provide a wonderful result."

One of the Vietnam war's most memorable images, Harrity's photograph showed a baby girl - Tran Thie Het Nhanny - huddled in a cardboard box next to her brother, who was begging on the streets of Saigon.

"Because of that photograph, Nhanny was flown to Houston for a heart operation. She recovered, and was adopted, and grew up in Ohio. She got married, and raised a family," Harrity recalled.

He saw Nhanny twice again, later in life. In 1983 she was invited to the White House by President Ronald Reagan. Then in 2005, Harrity thought he would be receiving the White House News Photographers Association's Lifetime Achievement Award from President George W. Bush, as they had rehearsed. Except when it came time to hand over the honor at the dinner, Nhanny stepped forward to give Harrity the plaque as President Bush stood by.

Today Harrity is the “photo coach” and a contributing photographer for the Calistoga (CA) Tribune, a “thriving weekly newspaper” with a circulation of approximately 1,000.

Now that Harrity has been named a Sprague Award winner, all three of the top national news weekly magazines' former White House photographers have received NPPA’s top honor. Time magazine's Dirck Halstead was the 2004 Sprague recipient, and Newsweek's Wally McNamee was the 2005 recipient. U.S. News & World Report, which was the nation’s other leading weekly news magazine, was illustrated with Harrity’s photographs.

At one of the world’s most recognized and iconic magazines, Sprague Award winner Dimick leads National Geographic Magazine’s environmental coverage, documenting the nexus between human aspiration and earth's ability to sustain us, a place that he calls “a fascinating intersection for photojournalists to explore in this time of rapid global environmental change.” 

Dimick guided creation of a single-topic magazine issue on global fresh water in April 2010, and directed a year-long series on global population called “7 Billion” in 2011. And he originated and orchestrated the creation of a 74-page, three-story project on climate change called “Global Warming: Bulletins from a Warmer World” in 2004.

“It is very humbling to be recognized by the NPPA for my work, which is as much the work of many collaborators and supporters as it is my own,” Dimick told News Photographer magazine today. “The many stories on environmental issues we have published in National Geographic in recent years would never have happened without the strong support of editors Chris Johns and Bill Allen. They have willingly tolerated my obsession for visualizing global environmental change with documentary photojournalism. 

“If anything I hope that this recognition will raise the profile of environmental photojournalism, and the possibilities it offers as a way for photojournalists to show and explain the changes we see in the world now.”

He says that environmental issues will only become central to the concerns and work of photojournalists as the world continues to confront more extreme weather, melting ice caps, shifting seasons, rising seas, and other expanding impacts of humanity's love affair for fossil carbon fuels.

"As the world changes we see more and more that environmental photojournalists can be on the front lines showing and explaining with their pictures what is happening on the ground as climate change drives more crop failures, droughts, and floods, and as a result create the kinds of political unrest and turmoil that challenge the security of nations and human civilization in years ahead. Rapidly rising food prices sparked the Arab Spring revolution in Tunisia two years ago, and food riots in Mexico in 2008 were caused by corn crop shortages. We are only beginning to see impacts on freshwater and food supplies worldwide as climate and weather conditions shift to a new state."

Dimick joined the Geographic in in 1980 and was a picture editor for National Geographic Traveler from 1984 to 1987. He joined the magazine staff as a picture editor in 1991 after a decade of editing a dozen Geographic books and working for Traveler. Dimick has specialized in environmental coverage since 1998.

Before National Geographic, Dimick worked as a photojournalist, picture editor, and reporter for daily newspapers in Oregon and Washington, including the Corvallis (OR) Gazette Times, the McMinnville (OR) News-Register, the Pendleton East Oregonian, and the Walla Walla (WA) Union Bulletin. From 1978 until 1980, he was a picture editor for The Courier-Journal in Louisville, KY.

Dimick has an agricultural degree from Oregon State University and a master’s degree in agricultural journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since 2008, he’s has been a co-organizer of the annual Aspen Environment Forum, and for 16 years he’s been a faculty member at the historic Missouri Photo Workshop.