The Deseret News has been selected by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill to receive its 2003 Outstanding Media Award for news reporting.

The newspaper is being recognized for its breaking news coverage of issues surrounding the rescue of Elizabeth Smart.

"The Deseret News was a model for the nation on reporting key issues involving mental illness and homelessness in an intelligent, compassionate and balanced manner, in a case that touched many families in different ways around the world," said Rick Birkel, executive director of the NAMI.

The organization commended Deseret News religion editor Carrie A. Moore and staff writers Elaine Jarvik, James Thalman, Angie Welling and Linda Thomson for articles published March 14-17.

"What impressed us internally is that relative to others — The New York Times, Newsweek, etc. — Deseret News was one of the few publications, the only one consistently, that got the mental illness and homelessness angles and dealt with them thoughtfully, beyond sensationalism — also sooner, before others . . . started to figure them out," said Bob Carolla, NAMI's national news director.

Carolla nominated the Deseret News for the award, in consultation with NAMI's legal director. The NAMI executive director and national board president made the final award decisions.

The award will be presented at NAMI's annual convention July 1 in Minneapolis.

The alliance gives media awards annually to recognize "outstanding journalism that covers mental illness issues with fairness, accuracy and sensitivity," Birkel said. NAMI also presents awards to actors, writers, directors and producers of TV shows and movies "which portray mental illness compassionately, challenging stereotypes and stigma, and contributing to broader public understanding," according to the award nomination form.

Past honorees include the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The New York Times, Newsweek, Time, and actors Russell Crowe and Sally Field.


E-mail: achristensen@desnews.com