The Newsletter on Newsletters, a national publication founded in 1964, has announced its annual awards for journalistic acumen. Providence Publications, which includes the industry newsletter Workers’ Comp Executive (WCE), came away with 5 of the awards. The most prestigious of awards, the Award for Public Service, was awarded to Workers’ Comp Executive for its three years of extensive coverage regarding the State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF); notably in 2008 as the state agency was facing increased scrutiny from the public and legislature. The Newsletter on Newsletter concluded in its most recent edition, “the Award for Public Service goes to Workers’ Comp Executive, for its reporting of the issues and challenges as a bill opening the agency to the public neared legislative enactment in 2008.
In eight articles, beginning last April and running through September, WCE detailed SCIF’s attempts to gut the measure. By quoting industry executives and attorneys, WCE was able to show how those efforts would make the bill pretty meaningless.” Bess Shapiro is the capitol correspondent credited with coverage along with publisher of WCE, Dale Debber. This is the second year in a row Providence Publications has won the Top Journalism Award for Public Service, having saved insurance consumers last year nearly $6 hundred million.
Upon hearing the news, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger stated, “Good Journalism is essential for good government and I’m proud to have these California journalists recognized in the national community. We stand with all Californians in recognizing Providence Publications for its great journalism and many awards this year. Dale, Bess, and Brad are familiar faces around the Capitol and I join the whole Capitol community in recognizing not only the efforts of the whole Providence Publications team, but in thanking them for the kind of accurate and fair reporting they do. I am delighted that they brought so many prestigious awards back to California.”
Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner also comments on the awards. “Workers Comp Executive and its excellent team of writers and editors work tirelessly to pursue the latest developments in the workers’ compensation market,” said California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. “Congratulations to Dale Debber, Brad Cain and Bess Shapiro for winning these awards and brining their readers their special brand of determined and detailed reporting.”
The award for Best Deadline Reporting also went to Workers’ Comp Executive for its story “SCIF Hides President’s Performance Bonus”. The Newsletter on Newsletters notes, “With California considering an open public records act, editor, Brad Cain and publisher Dale Debber began asking questions about the employment contract of Janet Frank, President, State Compensation Insurance Fund. State Fund refused to release details but Workers’ Comp Executive obtained them anyway. What made the contract particularly interesting was the fact that Frank was in California only four days a week, returning to her home in Denver, Colo., for the remaining three.” The story made public her pay, bonus arrangements and expenses.
Debber commented on the pattern of journalistic integrity utilized in this and all Providence Publications, “Workers’ Comp Executive is the journal of record for California workers’ comp professionals in all facets of the system. While we reflect the views of our audience, we never function as a mouthpiece and hold these same professionals accountable”.
Additionally Workers’ Comp Executive won the award from The Newsletter on Newsletters for Best Feature Article, “The Journalist in the Jury Pool”, by Capitol Correspondent Bess Shapiro. The Newsletter on Newsletters noted in the upcoming December 21st article that “Bess Shapiro’s adherence to professional journalistic ethics was enough to get her booted off a jury. The reason: She honestly told the court that while the Constitution assures a person has the right to remain silent, exercising that right would lead her to assume that the defendant had something to hide and probably was guilty”.
Another award, this one for Best Government Coverage went to Workers’ Comp Executive for its article “Governor Schwarzenegger Puts SCIF on the Block”. The coverage centered on Schwarzenegger’s plan to shore up $1 billion of the state budget deficit by selling the assets of State Fund, also known as SCIF. Publisher Dale Debber learned of the sale before it would be publicly announced, he pursued the issues and wrote a 2400 word piece that would later win the award.
Workers’ Comp Executive’s final award from The Newsletter on Newsletters was in the “Best Newswriting” category. Brad Cain followed the government meetings of the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California and learned that the bureau was recommending a 27% increase in workers’ compensation rates. The article, “27% Rate Hike Coming”, immediately sounded alarms in the insurance and business community. The Schwarzenegger administration took notice of the article and on the same day wrote a letter to the Insurance Commissioner urging a rejection to the bureau’s recommended increase. The Insurance Commissioner would reject the increase and as noted in The Newsletter on Newsletters, “Workers’ Comp Executive’s early reporting alerted the entire workers’ comp community including the commissioner and the governor that workers’ compensation rates were starting to creep up.”