Sun reporter wins Polk Award

Robert Little wrote on experimental drug given to wounded U.S. soldiers in Iraq

February 20, 2007|By Nick Madigan | Nick Madigan,Sun Reporter

A series of articles about an experimental drug used on U.S. service members in Iraq has earned a George Polk Award for Sun national correspondent Robert Little.

He won in one of 12 categories honored by the Polk awards committee at Long Island University, which recognizes journalism excellence and receives nominations from virtually every major U.S. news organization.

The awards are given in memory of CBS correspondent George Polk, who was killed while covering Greece's civil war in the late 1940s. They are widely considered among the most prestigious in American journalism.

Little won in the medical reporting category for his three-part series, Dangerous Remedy, for which he traveled to Iraq to study the Army's use of an experimental blood coagulant. The articles, published in November, revealed that more than 1,000 soldiers have received the drug and detailed the cases of three wounded soldiers who were treated; two died after suffering blood clots.

The Army says it is investigating, but, Little said yesterday, "it's still being used, as far as I'm aware."

"I still think about those guys every day," he said.

"This was a story that was extraordinarily difficult to report, from traveling into the war zone in Iraq to learning the details of certain emergency medical practices to dealing sensitively with the families of soldiers here," said Sun editor Timothy A. Franklin. "In the end, Bob gave our readers a powerful and very human story, and his work could save lives. ... I can't think of a more important public service mission than helping protect the lives of American troops."

Edward Hershey, a Polk committee member, said the articles showed the Army was "essentially experimenting on G.I.'s."

"That's what made it a winner," he said. "I'm sure the Army wasn't happy about this one."

The Sun last won a Polk award for a 1999 series. This is the third Polk award the newspaper has won in a decade.

Other winners of the Polk Award, which will be presented April 12 in New York, are:

Spike Lee and Sam Pollard for When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, an HBO documentary about New Orleans;

New York Times writer Lydia Polgreen for reporting from Darfur, Sudan;

Lisa Myers and Adam Ciralsky of the NBC Nightly News for reporting on a $70 million Army contract;

Hartford Courant reporters Lisa Chedekel and Matthew Kauffman for an expose on suicide among U.S. troops.

Kenneth R. Weiss and Usha Lee McFarling of the Los Angeles Times for an inquiry into toxic waste dumping;

The Wall Street Journal's Charles Forelle, James Bandler and Mark Maremont for exposing the backdating of stock options;

Jeff Kosseff, Bryan Denson and Les Zaitz of The Oregonian for uncovering the failure of an employment program;

The Miami Herald's Debbie Cenziper for revealing mismanagement in a housing agency;

11 graduate students from the University of California-Berkeley, American Public Media and Living on Earth, for the radio series Early Signs: Reports from a Warming Planet;

Editor Ray Ring of the High Country News of Colorado for political reporting;

The staff of the weekly Lakefront Outlook in Chicago, for an expose on cronyism.

nick.madigan@baltsun.com

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