Clifford P. Cheney Service to Journalism Award
Tom Wharton, Salt Lake Tribune reporter
In 2016, Tom Wharton semi-retired from The Salt Lake Tribune after 50 years in the newspaper business. With the exception of a six-month stint at The Deseret News early in his career, Wharton has spent all those years at The Tribune. He wrote mostly about prep sports, the outdoors and travel, but over the decades he wrote for every section of the newspaper. Wharton also served in the Utah National Guard as a public affairs specialist for 21 years. During the first Gulf War, he was deployed to Saudi Arabia and was the escort for a media pool following a water purification unit from American Fork. He retired from the guard in 1991 with the rank of captain. Wharton has a bachelor's degree from the University of Utah, where he also was president of a student chapter of SPJ.
Roy B. Gibson Freedom of Information Award
Dan Schroeder, Weber State University physics professor
This year's Gibson Award is going to someone who isn't a journalist. When Dan Schroeder, an Ogden resident and Weber State University physics professor, wanted to learn more about former Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey's Envision Ogden civic group, he asked to see the organization's financial records. When he was denied, he kept asking, pursuing the records under Utah's GRAMA laws right up to the state's high court. Schroeder's tenacity and commitment to ensuring the public's business is done in a public way helped win that record's battle, making him a shining example of what Freedom of Information laws can do in the right hands.
Don Baker Investigative Reporting Award
Nate Carlisle, Salt Lake Tribune reporter
In a 2015 investigation, Salt Lake Tribune reporter and editor Nate Carlisle described in depth and detail the ways by which members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints fund the polygamous organization. Carlisleâ€™s seven-month examination focused on two companies, discovering they employ underage workers and pay below minimum wage, funneling profits back to the FLDS to fund such multi-million-dollar projects as the Yearning for Zion Ranch. Carlisleâ€™s investigation went far beyond the usual digging into law enforcement and court records to include property tax records, business filings, insurance information, and in-person interviews at far-flung job sites.
Josephine Zimmerman Pioneer in Journalism Award
John Gholdston, Southern Utah University adjunct professor
For nearly 50 years, John Gholdston didn't just watch journalism shift from a triumphant print legacy toward an increasingly integrated digital landscape, he pushed it. After 16 years of professional journalism experience in Florida, "The Captain" came to Utah where he designed and developed an integrated newsroom combining newspaper, television, radio and a website into Brigham Young University's NewsNet. At Southern Utah University, he utilized those same skills integrating news production through SUU News, culminating in a website that has won multiple regional and national awards. Graduates of the two programs have gone on to success at virtually every media outlet in the state and beyond. Through decades as an educator, Gholdston's focus has remained constant: Giving his students the best tools to "move information from the hands of those who have it to the hands of those who ought to."
Unafraid to take a (blue) bull by its horns, the Herald Journal newspaper in Cache Valley took on Utah State University last year in a records battle to uncover details of the deal awarding naming rights of the school's renovated football stadium. Through tireless petitions under the state's Government Records Access and Management Act and arguing before the State Record's Committee, the Herald Journal found out what it cost a regional convenience store chain, Maverik Inc., to put its name on the venue: quarterly payments of $87,500, adding up to $6.3 million over 18 years. What started out as curiosity and commitment from a few journalists at a dedicated local paper became a statewide headline as well as a testament to the value of keeping a community informed.