The Pulitzer Prize is the most coveted of all journalistic awards, but the one hanging on the wall in the Deseret News office is easily overlooked. It's a simple 8-by-10 certificate in a plain frame, often overshadowed by its more opulent-looking neighbors.
Still, it's the Rolls-Royce of media awards, a symbol of the newspaper's excellence.The Deseret News and staff writer Robert D. Mullins were awarded the coveted Pulitzer Prize in 1962 for outstanding reporting under deadline pressure. The story involved a murder and kidnapping near Moab and Mullins (momentarily considered a suspect because he matched the description of the killer) drove hundreds of miles back and forth to make sure Deseret News readers got current information. Some of it was so fresh, in fact, that FBI agents read about it before they heard it.
That Pulitzer is one of many prestigious awards garnered by the staff over the years. There are, in fact, too many to list.
For several years, the Deseret News has captured a lion's share of the awards in reporting, design and photography from both the Society of Professional Journalists Utah Headliners Chapter competition and the Utah-Idaho-Spokane Associated Press contest. This year, in SPJ competition, the News captured 21 awards - more than any other newspaper. In 1989, staffers received 20 1/2 awards (the half was a tie) and in 1988 staff members took nine of 13 first places.
In the regional Associated Press competition, the Deseret News took 20 awards last year - six of them first place honors. This year staff members won another pocketful of awards.
Deseret News photographers received a special honor during the past year. Photographer Ravell Call took third place in the Region 9 National Press Photographers Association clip contest and Tom Smart took fifth. Smart has made the top 10 four out of five years in this prestigious competition. Other photographers have captured honors in the monthly contests. And they always do well in SPJ and Associated Press competitions. This year, in fact, Deseret News photographers took exactly half of the awards in AP competition, despite competing with a number of newspapers.
Individually and collectively, Deseret News writers have been honored by many other organizations, including the Humane Society, the Utah Arts Council, the American Heart Association, law enforcement agencies, Utah Special Olympics, the Salt Lake County Commission, Crime Solvers, Salt Lake Parks and Recreation, the Utah Hospital Association, the Mental Health Association, the Environmental Protection Agency, Scripps-Howard Foundation, the National Press Club, the National Press Foundation, the Utah Heritage Foundation and scores of other agencies for doing what it does best: Bringing the world to subscribers' doorsteps.
The newspaper is looking forward to at least another 140 years' worth of awards.
Here's a sampling of some of the other recent awards anyone walking down the corridor of the newspaper office will see:
- Five Newspaper Promotion Awards during the past decade from Editor and Publisher magazine.
- A National Aeronautics and Space Agency Award to the Church News staff.
- Utah Newspaper Hall of Fame membership granted to the Deseret News in 1
- A National Coal Association honor for coverage of the Wilberg Mine disaster in 1985. Staffers took the prize money and established a scholarship.
- The Aldo Award to the newspaper's fashion editor for coverage of men's fashion.
- The 1987 Clifford P. Cheny Service to Journalism Award to William B. Smart, former editor and general manager.
- Nine awards to staff members in the past four years for coverage of mental-health issues.
- Eight awards this year from Gov. Norm Bangerter for reporting on women's issues.