Journalism Awards

William Lazarus won more than 30 journalism awards during the years he worked as an investigative reporter and periodic columnist. Here is a list of some of those honors:

Hoosier State Press Association (2003) – 1st place, nondeadline news (individual) for a story about a top aide to East Chicago Mayor Robert Pastrick secretively reaping millions through city and school city dealings with his firms.

Society of Professional Journalists (Chicago chapter covering a region that spreads to Wisconsin and to Indiana) (2003) – One of three Lisagor finalists in science writing (all newspapers) for stories about pollution from trucks that belch smoke; finalist in deadline news and public service (team efforts, papers under 300,000)

Society of Professional Journalists (Chicago region) (2002) – Lisagor winner, nondeadline news (papers under 300,000 circulation) for stories about dubious plea bargains.

Hoosier State Press Association (2001) – 2nd place, nondeadline news, for a story about the city of East Chicago spending $4 million on private driveways, patios and basketball courts just before the mayoral election; 2nd place, nondeadline news, for a story about greed and suffering in the downfall of American HMO. The situation eventually lead to federal prosecutions and convictions of top city officials.

Society of Professional Journalists, Chicago region (2000) – Lisagor finalist, nondeadline news for stories on tax sales. Lake County, Indiana employees quietly in the pay of the private firm handling tax sales misled homeowners while fly-by-night operators laid claim to refunds owed by the county to scores of people who had lost their homes. Homeowners with $100 in unpaid taxes had to buy back their properties for $8,000 and more; some continued to pay their taxes and put in substantial improvements, not knowing they had lost their homes to elusive companies that purchased them at tax sales.

Hoosier State Press Association (1999) – First place, nondeadline news, for a story about the former director of the Indiana Democratic Party and his mentor turning a $33 riverboat casino investment into a $24 million bonanza.

Society of Professional Journalists, Chicago region (1998) – Lisagor winner, business, all newspapers, for stories exposing fraud, regulatory failure, and human suffering tied to the downfall of an Indiana/Illinois insurer-hmo called HealthCare 2000.

Hoosier Environmental Coalition (1998) – Excellence in Media Award for an investigation in the conflicts of interest tied to a town’s lawsuit against a local environmentalist.

Society of Professional Journalists, Chicago chapter (1997) – Ethics in Journalism Award (all newspapers and broadcast) for persistent investigative reporting under difficult circumstances; Lisagor finalist, business, all newspapers, for stories about a dubious incinerator venture.

Society of Professional Journalists, Indiana chapter (1997) – community service award, for stories exposing public utility’s secret payments to a state legislator.

Hoosier State Press Association (1996) – 2nd place, business, for stories exposing a dubious incinerator venture.

Society of Professional Journalists, Chicago chapter (1996) – finalist, public service, newspapers under 300,000 circulation, for stories exposing vote fraud.

Society of Professional Journalists, Indiana chapter (1994) – 1st place, investigative reporting, for stories about an East Chicago toxic waste disposal firm.

Society of Professional Journalists, Chicago chapter (1993) – Lisagor finalist, reporting, papers under 300,000 circulation, for a probe of the City of Gary’s building department blocking home repairs.

Hancock prize (national business writing contest, finalist 1991, winner 1990) – My stories probing lax regulation and fraudulent assets of four Wyoming insurance companies won a $5,000 prize. Three of the companies went into liquidation, leaving $2 million in assets to cover $434 million in claims; the fourth company left the state, after its treasurer, a frontrunner for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, dropped out of the race upon the publication of one of my stories. The insurance commissioner resigned, blaming my work. He was thereafter convicted in connection with taking bribes from insurance companies he regulated.

Wyoming Press Association (1990)National Mental Health Association; Wyoming Alliance for the Mentally Ill (1989) – A national prize from NMHA and a public service award from WAMI for a story probing the last four months in the life of a schizophrenic youth and the failures of Wyoming’s mental health system.

Wyoming Press Association (1990) – News, 2nd place, for stories examining the failure of two insurance companies.

Wyoming Press Association (1990) – Column writing, for satirical pieces on the jailing of protesters in Grand Teton National Park and evangelicals picketing a summer solstice celebration.

Alaska Press Club (1979) – 1st place, reporting, for a story about the self-interested dealings of an Aleut tribal leader to the disadvantage of his people.

Alaska Press Club (1978) – 1st place, reporting, for a story about a $2 billion dam slated to be built directly over an earthquake fault.

Alaska Press Club (1978) – 1st place, features, for a story about a whacky ex-priest who turned powered milk into “wine” under filthy conditions.

Allied Daily Newspaper Association, northwestern United States (1977) – Charles Webster prize, investigative reporting, for stories exposing fraudulent assets of Sierra Life Insurance Company, which later went into liquidation.

Society of Professional Journalists, national (1977) – First Amendment defense award for refusing to reveal tipster sources in harassment lawsuit by Sierra Life of Twin Falls, Idaho.

Idaho Press Club (1976) – in-depth reporting, for stories examining Sierra Life investments and regulatory controversies concerning the company.

Idaho Press Club (1975) – 1st place, for a story concerning Sierra Life’s fraudulent land Hawaiian land investment on the island of Molokai.

Idaho Press Club (1974) – 1st place, in-depth reporting, for stories on Idaho Power Company’s planned coal-fired power plant; the running stories started with the news that the entirely hydro-electric based company had entered into contract to buy millions of tons of coal each year for 25 years. The company had just denied it was planning such a plant.

Idaho Press Club (1973) – 1st place, nondeadline news, for a story about trout hatchery pollution in the Snake River.