The News & Observer has won a national journalism award for fairness for its coverage of former Durham District Attorney Tracey E. Cline.
The Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Newspapers, administered by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, announced the award Friday - the same day Cline was removed from office as Durham's elected district attorney by Superior Court Judge Robert H. Hobgood of Franklin County.
The award committee reviewed the three-part series on Cline written by investigative reporter J. Andrew Curliss, "Twisted Truth: A Prosecutor Under Fire," as well as email exchanges with Cline that were published at her request and volumes of court documents filed by Cline.
"What especially stood out for me was how the newspaper handled Cline's attempts to discredit its work and that of the reporter, J. Andrew Curliss," one of the award judges, Tyler Bridges, said in a statement. "The paper's editors demonstrated considerable fairness when Cline cast the paper in the difficult role of having to report on her attacks against it."
Cline alleged that Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson was behind The N&O series, which questioned her actions in some cases and raised questions about her ability to get the facts straight.
The N&O and Hudson dispute his involvement in the series.
A series by Curliss about the legal and ethical problems surrounding former Gov. Mike Easley and top administrators at N.C. State University was a finalist for the Taylor Family Award in 2010.
The award was established by the Taylor family, which published The Boston Globe from 1872 to 1999.