National Press Club

Wash. Post, Virginian-Pilot reporters win Gerald Ford awards for journalistic excellence

June 4, 2012 | By Heather Forsgren Weaver | HeatherForsgrenWeaver@gmail.com

Steven Ford, Chairman of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation and son of President Ford, discusses the values of the Ford Award embodied in the journalism of this year's winners at the National Press Club awards luncheon, June 4, 2012.

Steven Ford, Chairman of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation and son of President Ford, discusses the values of the Ford Award embodied in the journalism of this year's winners at the National Press Club awards luncheon, June 4, 2012.

Photo/Image: Noel St. John

Washington Post and Virginian-Pilot reporters won Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation awards June 4 that honor journalists for their coverage of national defense and the White House.

The Post's Scott Wilson won the award presented at the National Press Club for distinguished reporting on the presidency. Corinne Reilly of the Virginian-Pilot received the award for national defense reporting for a series of stories on a combat hospital in Kandahar.

This is the 25th year the foundation, created by the 38th president and led by Steven Ford, has given out the awards for journalistic excellence.

Steven Ford said that until the day his father died in 2006, he read five or six newspapers daily, always ending with the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Press.

When Steven asked his father why he always ended with the Press, the late president said, “Well, you know what Congress and the White House are doing because of the Washington Post, New York Times, L.A. Times. But you actually find out if it is working when you read your local newspaper.”

Ford said that “in this environment that encourages conformity, Wilson stands out as a non-conformist, bringing his readers on-the-scene analysis of White House activity that is not available anywhere else.”

Wilson, who worked overseas for eight years and began covering the White House with the Obama presidency, said the beat “can be hugely frustrating.” It can “often feel like a ‘bang your head here’ exercise covering such a closed institution and private president.''

In presenting the other award, Ford said, “Reilly’s stories provided a window not only on the trauma to injured soldiers but to the emotional impact on the international medical teams and caregivers who treat them.”

Reilly said she and a photographer from the Virginian-Pilot “were both truly blown away by the sacrifice we witnessed at the combat hospital in Kandahar. We both decided that the best way we could honor that sacrifice would be to document it as faithfully as possible, and if this award is any indication that we succeeded in doing that, then I couldn’t be any prouder to be here.”

Awardees receive $5,000. Sean Naylor of the Army Times was given an honorable mention for national defense reporting. Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's ``Hardball,'' was the featured speaker for the awards luncheon.