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Louisiana is at the Heart of Long Island University’s 2011 George Polk Awards Luncheon

University honors coverage of the Gulf oil spill and New Orleans police corruption.
Awards given to former death row inmate at Angola and a cub reporter from Shreveport

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Brian Harmon,Director of Public Relations
Brooklyn Campus,
Long Island University
(718) 488-1418, (516) 551-0431

New York, N.Y. - Maybe this year they should have called it the Louisiana Polk Awards.

Four of the awards conferred Thursday, April 7, during Long Island University’s George Polk Awards Luncheon at The Roosevelt Hotel in midtown Manhattan featured connections to the Pelican State.

Wilbert Rideau - called "the most rehabilitated prisoner in America" by Life magazine - formally received his 1979 George Polk Award for Special Interest Reporting, an honor he earned while serving a life sentence for murder at a prison in Angola, La. Rideau, the longtime editor of his prison’s magazine, The Angolite, was released from prison in 2005 after his murder conviction was reduced to manslaughter. He had never officially been presented his award.

"The Polk Awards are said to be given for courage in journalism," said Rideau, 69, whose critically acclaimed autobiography, "In the Place of Justice: A Story of Punishment and Deliverance," was published in 2010. "It is the awards committee I find courageous for inviting me to this year’s ceremonies, especially in these days of hardened cultural attitudes about the formerly incarcerated."

While Rideau waited more than three decades to receive his award, Shreveport native Amy Brittain, 24, received a Polk Award less than a year after graduating from journalism school at Columbia University. Brittain, a staff writer at The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J., and her colleague, veteran reporter Mark Mueller, earned the George Polk Award for Metropolitan Reporting.

The two reporters - based on a project that Brittain had started in college - developed a series of articles that exposed the hidden world of steroid use and fraud among law enforcement officers across New Jersey. Brittain, who earned her bachelor’s degree at Lousiana State University, brought the idea for the series to Star-Ledger editors and was hired on the spot.

Brittain said one of her college professors warned her that investigative projects are like marathons, not sprints, and that such projects will have peaks and valleys.

"He wasn't lying. At times, I was elated, like when sources who had no reason to talk suddenly decided to answer my knock on the door," Brittain said. "Other times left me feeling at my lowest, like when my editor, David Tucker, made me cry. Or like when I had to buy a mouth guard from the stress of grinding my teeth."

The other Lousiana connections included the George Polk Award for Environmental Reporting, which recognized the Associated Press’ coverage of last year’s massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. More than a dozen journalists who participated in the Associated Press’ colossal effort attended the luncheon.

The George Polk Award for Television Reporting was given to ProPublica, PBS’ "Frontline" and The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, La.) for a collaborative effort that took an unwavering look at the controversial and brutal actions taken by the New Orleans Police Department in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The 62nd Annual George Polk Awards awarded journalists in 13 categories. The awards are conferred annually to honor special achievement in journalism, with a premium placed on investigative and enterprise reporting. They were established in 1949 by Long Island University to commemorate George Polk, a CBS correspondent murdered in 1948 while covering the Greek civil war.

A complete list of the 2010 winners is available at http://www.liu.edu/About/News/Univ-Ctr-PR/2011/February/Polk-PR2_22Feb2011.aspx.

George Polk Awards
Ranked among America's most coveted journalism honors, the George Polk Awards have been administered by Long Island University since 1949.They memorialize CBS correspondent George W. Polk, who was slain covering the civil war in Greece in 1948. A committee of jurors made up of University faculty members and alumni select the winners from entries submitted by journalists and news organizations as well as nominations made by a panel of journalists and editors, including a number of former winners.

About Long Island University
In its ninth decade of providing access to the American dream through excellence in higher education, Long Island University is a multicampus, diverse, doctoral institution of higher learning. One of the largest and most comprehensive private universities in the country, Long Island University offers more than 550 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degree programs and certificates, and educates over 24,000* students in degree-credit and continuing education programs in Brooklyn, Brookville (C.W. Post), Brentwood, Riverhead, Rockland and Westchester. The Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences prepares students for successful careers in the fields of pharmacy and health care. The University’s Global College provides a wide range of study abroad options at overseas centers in China, Costa Rica and India, and through program offerings in Australia, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey. Long Island University’s more than 600 full-time faculty members provide outstanding instruction, which is supplemented by internships and cooperative education opportunities. The accomplishments of more than 182,000 living alumni are a testament to the success of its mission - providing the highest level of education to people from all walks of life. The University’s NCAA Division I and II athletic teams, nationally renowned George Polk Awards in journalism and Tilles Center for the Performing Arts provide enrichment for students and the community.
*This number includes high school students enrolled in one or more degree-credit courses.

The Brooklyn Campus is distinguished by...
dynamic curricula reflecting the great urban community it serves. Distinctive programs encompass the arts and media, the natural sciences, business, social policy, urban education, the health professions and pharmacy, and include the Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, the Ph.D. in Pharmaceutics, the D.P.T. in Physical Therapy and the Pharm.D. in Pharmacy. A vibrant urban oasis in downtown Brooklyn, this diverse and thriving campus offers academic excellence, personalized attention, small class size and flexible course schedules. In 2006, a $45-million Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center was opened to serve the Campus and the surrounding community. In 2007, the Cyber Café was launched, providing a high-tech hot spot for students and faculty members to meet and eat.

Posted 04/08/2011

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