Lisa Desjardins of PBS Wins Dirksen Award

From a story on headlined Lisa Desjardins of PBS Wins 2021 Dirksen Award”:

Lisa Desjardins of the PBS NewsHour has won the Everett McKinley Dirksen Award for Distinguished Reporting of Congress from the National Press Foundation. Judges cited her beat reporting as well as her extraordinary live coverage from inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Jonathan D. Salant of NJ Advance Media has won honorable mention for stories exposing how lawmakers and federal agencies have failed to adopt trucking safety regulations despite sharp increases in the number of preventable truck accidents.

The National Press Foundation judges noted that Desjardins, who has covered Capitol Hill for the past 16 years, remained calm even as she reported on rioters shattering the doors of the building and streaming inside – and did not make herself part of the story.

“She was in danger, but she just did her job,” said judge Susan Milligan of U.S. News and World Report. Judge Terence Samuel of NPR said Desjardins gave viewers “both literally and metaphorically an insider’s view” of the attack on the Capitol building as the counting of the 2020 Electoral College votes was under way.

Judges also cited Desjardins’ tireless and insightful beat reporting throughout the year.  “She explains what is going on with a level of knowledge and sophistication that you don’t often see,” said judge Jon Sawyer of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Salant reported on trucking industry lobbyist activity in Washington, while the industry failed to adopt existing technologies, such as automatic emergency braking – and Congress did not make them.

The Dirksen Award was created in 1980 in honor of the late Republican senator from Illinois. It recognizes journalists whose work shows thoughtful appraisal and insight into the workings of the U.S. Congress.  Last year’s winner was Molly Ball of Time, with honorable mention to Christopher Marquette of CQ Roll Call.

The Dirksen award carries a cash prize of $5,000. Previous winners of the award can be found here.

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