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UIS professor and alums take top honors in national competition

August 13, 2007

Contact: Charles Wheeler, 217/206-7494, cwhee1@uis.edu

SPRINGFIELD – Charles N. Wheeler III, professor and director of the Public Affairs Reporting program at the University of Illinois at Springfield, along with six PAR graduates, were among the winners of the annual competition sponsored by Capitolbeat, the national organization of journalists covering state and local governments.

The awards – honoring excellence in Statehouse reporting in print, broadcast, and online media – were presented at the organization's annual conference, held this year in Philadelphia.

For the fourth year in a row, Wheeler received top honors for magazine commentary, recognizing his contributions over the past year as a columnist for Illinois Issues magazine.

The six PAR alumni won a total of 10 awards, including four firsts. They are:

Amanda Vinicky (2005), WUIS Statehouse bureau, first place for in-depth radio reporting.

Bethany Carson (2004) and Deanese Williams-Harris (2007), Illinois Issues Statehouse bureau chief and intern, respectively, first place for online beat reporting.

Dan Vock (2000), Stateline.org, Washington, DC, first place for an online single report.

In addition, Carson won second place for magazine commentary and third place for magazine single report. Vock also received second place for online commentary and third place for online beat reporting.

John O'Connor (1986), AP political writer in the Springfield bureau, and Ray Long (1981), Chicago Tribune Statehouse bureau chief, both received honorable mention for beat reporting in the wire service/large newspaper category.

Wheeler noted that in the seven-year history of the Capitolbeat awards, PAR alums have won 41 of them, including 13 firsts.

Also at the conference, three PAR graduates were elected to the Capitolbeat board: Adriana Colindres (1991), Statehouse reporter for GateHouse Illinois Newspapers; Pat Guinane (2003), Statehouse bureau chief for The Times of Northwest Indiana; and Kirsten Singleton (2005), Statehouse bureau reporter for Morris News Service (South Carolina).

Capitolbeat, formerly called the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, has nearly 300 members across the country. Illinois Issues is a not-for-profit monthly publication focusing on analysis of public policy. WUIS is listener-supported public radio for central and west central Illinois. Both Illinois Issues and WUIS are part of the Center for State Policy and Leadership at UIS.

UIS' Public Affairs Reporting program is a one-year master’s degree program focusing on coverage of state government news.  In addition to academic work, students serve six-month internships with newspaper, magazine, radio, television, wire service, or audio news service bureaus in the Statehouse pressroom in Springfield.

††††† For more information, contact Wheeler at 206-7494.



The University of Illinois at Springfield, one of three U of I campuses, is a small, public liberal arts university that offers 42 degree programs: 21 bachelorís, 20 masterís, and the Doctorate of Public Administration. UIS has a special mission in public affairs and service and is known for extraordinary internships, a wireless campus, extensive online offerings, and a commitment to teaching.

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