Ken Ward Jr.'s prize-winning series revealed violations of federal law in state mine permitting.
The Gazette's coverage of mountaintop removal mining was America's best public service reporting in 1998 by a newspaper under 100,000 circulation, the Scripps Howard Foundation announced Tuesday.
Reporter Ken Ward Jr. will receive the foundation's Roy W. Howard Award, which bears a $2,500 cash prize.
Ward won for his series, "Mining the Mountains," which revealed that federal law was violated in the issuance of more than 100 mountaintop mine permits in West Virginia.
Commending Ward's "strong and daunting research," judges said: "The governor appointed a task force that confirmed the stories' outcomes, and that report said state law and enforcement should be strengthened."
Ward's newswriting prize was among 16 announced by the foundation, created by the Scripps Howard newspaper chain. Cash awards totaling $52,500 will be presented April 8 during a banquet in Cincinnati, home city of the chain.
The Gazette's mountaintop removal coverage previously received the Thoms L. Stokes Award for national reporting on energy and the environment. That award is given by the National Press Foundation in Washington, D.C.
Ward, 31, is a native of Mineral County and a graduate of West Virginia University. He is a two-time winner of the Scripps Howard Edward J. Meeman Award for Environmental Reporting, and a previous winner of the Roy W. Howard Award. Ward has been with the Gazette since 1991.
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