Hearst CT reporter recognized for coverage of Esty sexual harassment scandal
WASHINGTON — Dan Freedman of Hearst Newspapers and Sam Brodey of MinnPost are co-winners of the 2018 David Lynch Memorial Regional Reporting Award.
They won the prize for stories on sexual harassment in the congressional delegations they cover. The judges said Freedman and Brodey “exemplified the ideal traits of regional congressional reporting,” serving as an accountability watchdog of their delegations and finding deep local implications in one of the defining stories of our time. The panel also cited Nick Grube of the Honolulu Civil Beat for honorable mention.
The Lynch Award honors daily print journalism that explains how actions in Congress touch the local community. Judges look for thorough and incisive coverage, clear writing, and the reporter’s ability to explain complex subjects to a hometown audience.
Freedman was recognized for his coverage last year of former U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty’s handling of an incident involving two of her staff members in 2016. Tony Baker, the congresswoman’s former chief of staff, was accused of punching, screaming and threatening to kill one of Esty’s staff members.
After firing Baker, Esty admitted he received a $5,000 severance and giving him a favorable recommendation to work for Sandy Hook Promise.
A source told Freedman how Esty tried to hide Baker’s firing, telling staff he was leaving to work on the Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential campaign in Ohio. Freedman also reported on how Esty’s response to the incident affected her staff. Esty, who represented Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District, finished her third term but did not seek re-election last November.
“Hearst Connecticut’s newspapers and their readers are lucky to have Dan Freedman in Washington not just reporting on the day-to-day actions of our congressional delegation and how moves within the federal government are affecting Connecticut, but also going above and beyond to hold the powerful accountable, as epitomized by this coverage,” said Matt DeRienzo, vice president of news and digital content at Hearst Connecticut Media.
Freedman and Brodey (who recently moved to The Daily Beast) will share a $2,000 prize. They were honored Wednesday night at the 75th annual dinner of the Washington Press Club Foundation. The foundation co-sponsors the annual award with the Standing Committee of Correspondents, the governing body of the Congressional press corps.
The late David Lynch was a longtime member of the Congressional Press Galleries. He covered Congress for the Buffalo News and for bureaus that served dailies from New England to Alaska. After Lynch’s death in 1998 from colon cancer, his family, friends and colleagues raised money to establish the award in his name.
The judges were: Tom Ferraro, formerly of Thomson-Reuters; Seung Min Kim, of The Washington Post; Paul Singer, of the New England Center for Investigative Reporting; David Lightman, of McClatchy Newspapers and Carl Weiser, of the Cincinnati Enquirer.