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Deseret News editor receives journalism award

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Deseret News associate editorial page editor and columnist Jay Evensen has won the Cameron Duncan award and will accept it at a June 19 banquet in Washington, D.C.

The award recognizes a journalist each year who has brought awareness to poverty through his or her reporting. Evensen has written several editorials about the work of Dr. Muhammed Yunus, involving microfinance loans for people in poverty, helping them to build a business and become self-reliant.

"I've always been a little frustrated that I'm sitting here in Salt Lake writing about faraway places like Bangladesh and feeling like I'm not changing anything. By being recognized for this award, maybe I have been able to help some people by writing about what Dr. Yunus is doing," Evensen said.

Microfinance, or microcredit, is the practice of loaning small amounts to people, in this case those stuck in poverty without a credit rating. Yunus started doing so in 1974 when he met a young woman making bamboo stools. Her employer provided the materials and she earned only 2 cents a day. Yunus loaned her $6 to buy her own materials, jumping her profit to $1.25 a day, enabling her to pay back the loan and, in effect, become middle class. He later opened the Grameen Bank, giving millions more the opportunity to become self-sufficient.

Evensen learned of Yunus and began writing about the man's effort to lift those in Bangladesh out of poverty.

"(Microfinance) always appealed to me as a free market-based way to eradicate poverty from the world," Evensen said.

Evensen has worked with the Deseret News since 1986. In addition to the Cameron Duncan award, he recently earned a second-place honor in the Top of the Rockies journalism contest for column writing based on work published in 2010.

"As a journalist, Jay is the consummate professional," Paul Edwards, editorial page editor said. "He has tremendous skill as a writer and editor. He asks difficult and penetrating questions. He's not particularly satisfied with easy answers, so he's always probing. He's appropriately skeptical, but he's appreciative that his columns and editorials are meant to improve the world."

Evensen will receive the honor from the RESULTS Educational Fund at its international conference. RESULTS is an advocate for microfinance as a way to help the extremely poor people of the world find a way out of poverty. The Cameron Duncan award is named after a RESULTS director.

email: crosenlof@desnews.com