Journalists Without Boundaries, a Myanmar-based group, today awarded the Albany NY Times Union with its Medal for Journalistic Heroism, the Lead Bottom.
The Lead Bottom is awarded each year to a reporter, newspaper, or government official who "pushes the boundaries of journalism to protect the status quo." Recent awards went to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il for his efforts to protect his people from dangerous stories about food shortages, and to the Chinese press agency for its outstanding press releases about efforts to preserve harmony in Tibet.
The award to the Times Union was surprising as it had never gone to a US entity. Scott Waldman accepted the award on behalf of the paper.
Waldman, who faced intense pressure during an election in the Town of Guilderland, steadfastly refused to cover the election in order to protect the status quo candidates. Confronted with hard evidence that these incumbents had used their positions to enrich themselves through government action, Waldman dismissed these so-called "issues" as "snippy."
When the incumbents sued to knock a challenger off the ballot, and refused to debate, he correctly portrayed this as normal politics. He also made sure that the incumbents' claims of success were conveyed to the people without any complicating analysis.
Waldman thanked his hosts for the Lead Bottom and assured the throng of supporters that the Times Union would continue its efforts to preserve the status quo, no matter what pressures it faces in the future.