John Dickerson won the 2008 Livingston Award for Young Journalists in the local reporting category, for "Prescription for Disaster," a series about poor regulation — and poor performance — of medical professionals in Arizona. Dickerson wrote the series while a staff writer at Phoenix New Times.
Dickerson's victory marks the fourth time in the past decade that a writer from Village Voice Media has won a Livingston — more than any other American media organization.
The Livingston Awards honor excellence in writing and reporting for journalists under age 35. They are widely considered the nation's most prestigious recognition for young reporters, because unlike in most contests, journalists from all media — print, broadcast, and digital — compete against each other.
Judges for this year's Livingstons included Ken Auletta of the New Yorker, Christiane Amanpour of CNN, Tom Brokaw of NBC News and Newsweek columnist Anna Quindlen.
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"Prescription for Disaster" exposed numerous holes in the State of Arizona's safety net for medical patients. Thanks to lax oversight, Dickerson reported, doctors with drug addictions may go unmonitored, and convicted felons may be allowed to practice medicine.
Dickerson was also a finalist in last year's contest. His story "Inhumanity Has a Price," which ran as part of New Times' ongoing coverage of controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, revealed that Arpaio's inhumane jails and the resulting lawsuits had cost Arizona taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in legal settlements and fees.
This year's judges also recognized Elizabeth Dwoskin of the Village Voice as a finalist for her story, "The Fall of the House of Rubashkin," which traced the fall of the nation's pre-eminent kosher meat-packer. In addition to posting more winners than any other American media company, VVM also has had more Livingston finalists.
Dickerson and the other 2008 Livingston recipients were honored last week at an awards luncheon in New York; winners receive a $10,000 prize. Other winners included writers from the Wall Street Journal (national reporting) and the New York Times (international reporting).