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AP reporting on NYPD is among Polk Award winners

Four Associated Press reporters who uncovered controversial New York Police Department tactics used to investigate possible terrorist threats in the Muslim community and a 24-year-old crime reporter whose work helped expose the Penn State child sex scandal are among the recipients of the 63rd annual George Polk Awards in Journalism.

The awards were to be announced Monday by Long Island University.

Other journalists, including those from Bloomberg News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, ABC News, The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, Al Jazeera English, The Advertiser Democrat in western Maine, the nonprofit news group California Watch and the independent radio program "This American Life," also received awards.

"There was a strong field of contenders this year, especially in investigative work," said John Darnton, curator of the George Polk Awards. "It was a big year for news with the Arab Spring and the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, and reporters from many news organizations went behind the headlines to search for underlying causes and trends."

Anthony Shadid, a foreign correspondent for The New York Times who died Thursday of an apparent asthma attack while reporting on the uprising in Syria, will be awarded posthumously for extraordinary valor for his work in the Middle East, the Brooklyn-based university said. Shadid, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, also received a 2003 Polk Award.

The AP's Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Chris Hawley and Eileen Sullivan are being cited for their coverage of the NYPD. Their series of reports renewed debate over how far government should go and what tactics it should use to prevent another major terrorist attack in the United States. The quartet documented how the NYPD assigned so-called "rakers" and "mosque crawlers" to ethnic neighborhoods, infiltrating booksellers, cafes and Muslim places of worship.

Also being honored is Sara Ganim, a 24-year-old crime reporter for The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Ganim helped uncover a grand jury investigation into allegations of child sex abuse against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Her reporting helped expose allegations of an institutional cover-up that led to the ouster of Joe Paterno, the most successful football coach in major college history. Paterno died of lung cancer last month at age 85.

In March 2011, Ganim was the first to report that Sandusky was being investigated for child sex abuse. While most newspapers and television stations ignored the story, Ganim, herself a Penn State graduate, continued to write about the investigation.

Other honorees include:

Ronnie Dugger, founding editor of The Texas Observer, who will receive the George Polk Career Award. Duggar, co-founder of the Alliance for Democracy, has written biographies of Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan, as well as other books, and hundreds of articles for Harper's Magazine, The Nation, The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Progressive and other periodicals.

The award for television documentary honors Al Jazeera English reporter May Ying Welsh and field producer Hassan Mahfood for developing "Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark." The film shows the brutal suppression of protesters seeking democratic rights and highlights the unbridled power of security forces in a key American ally on the Gulf.

Jane Mayer, an investigative reporter with The New Yorker, will receive the magazine reporting award for an exposé that called attention to the story of Thomas Drake, a National Security Agency whistleblower charged with being a spy.

The award for military reporting is being awarded to C.J. Chivers of The New York Times for his coverage of the wars in Libya and Afghanistan.

The award for foreign reporting cites New York Times correspondent Jeffrey Gettleman and his colleague, photographer Tyler Hicks. The two have documented conflicts in the new state of South Sudan in central Africa and the Horn of Africa.

The staff of the Wall Street Journal is receiving the national reporting award for a series of articles that examined new ways of insider trading involving Washington officials and well-connected investors.

The award for local reporting will be presented to A.M. Sheehan and Matt Hongoltz-Hetling of the Advertiser Democrat for their in-depth report on the shocking conditions of low-income housing in the town of Norway, Maine.

Three reporters at Bloomberg News — Ben Elgin, Alan Katz and Vernon Silver — will receive the award for international reporting for a series of articles that shed light on the practice of Western companies selling surveillance technologies to repressive regimes that use them to track, imprison and kill dissidents.

The medical reporting award is being given to Lance Williams, Christina Jewett and Stephen K. Doig of California Watch, a nonprofit investigative reporting group. Their yearlong series of articles demonstrated how a California hospital chain increased its Medicare reimbursements by classifying patients as suffering from rare medical conditions.

Brian Ross and Anna Schecter will receive the award for television reporting for their 10-month ABC News investigation of the murder of Peace Corps volunteer Kate Puzey in West Africa. They uncovered a systemic failure to protect Peace Corps volunteers who were victims of sexual assault and the whistleblowers who tried to report the crimes.

A team of journalists at The Boston Globe won the award for legal reporting. Thomas Farragher, Marcella Bombardieri, Jonathan Saltzman, Matt Carroll and Darren Durlach discovered that scores of Massachusetts state judges were in effect nullifying tough new laws against drunk driving by treating drunken driving offenders with exceptional leniency, even when their guilt seemed to be overwhelmingly obvious.

Ira Glass' public radio show, "This American Life," earned the award for radio reporting for "Very Tough Love," an hour-long report that showed alarmingly severe punishments being meted out by a county drug court judge in Georgia.

The awards will be presented April 5 in New York City.

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