New America Media’s Sandy Close Wins George Polk Career Award

New America Media’s Sandy Close Wins George Polk Career Award

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SAN FRANCISCO -- New America Media Executive Editor Sandy Close has spent nearly two decades giving visibility to ethnic media, in a journalism career that has spanned four decades. Close was honored yesterday with the George Polk Career Award.

“This award is a great validation by a prestigious mainstream media organization of ethnic media’s vital role. We are very grateful,” Close said.

For 37 years, Close has guided the pioneering efforts of New America Media (formerly known as Pacific News Service), an alternative news source that supports thousands of ethnic media outlets. A number of journalists from those outlets have gone on to win national awards for their reporting.

Close has mentored scores of journalists, who now work in the mainstream press, among them A.C. Thompson, one of this year's winners of the Polk Award for Television Reporting.

In 1995, Close received a MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Fellowship; and in 1997, she co-produced the Academy Award-winning short documentary, Breathing Lessons.

Perhaps her proudest moment in journalism came in 2007, when she organized the Chauncey Bailey Project, a team of reporters whose investigative work led Oakland police to arrest those responsible for killing Bailey, the editor of the African American newspaper, The Oakland Post. Bailey had also won a Polk Award.

Close is among 13 recipients of the coveted George Polk Awards for 2010.

The New York Times and the independent nonprofit news organization ProPublica each earned two Polk Awards, while the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was honored for the third-straight year.

Polk Award judges twice awarded the collaborative efforts by multiple news organizations. ProPublica, The Times-Picayune of New Orleans and PBS Frontline won for Television Reporting, while ProPublica and National Public Radio joined forces to produce work that garnered them the Polk Award for Radio Reporting.

The 2010 George Polk Awards will be presented by Long Island University in New York on April 7.