Omaha’s Spencer Wins Award For Reporting On Coroner System Flaws


Karyn Spencer, a reporter for Omaha World-Herald, has won the 2009 Al Nakkula Award for Police Reporting. The award for Al Nakkula, a 46-year veteran at the Rocky Mountain News who died in 1990. It is sponsored by the newspaper, the University of Colorado School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and the
Denver Press Club. Spencer, 38, detailed how Nebraska's antiquated 1917 coroner system provides no oversight and few standards resulting in botched death
investigations across the state. She fought for the release of a state database of 76,000 death certificates then did the only in-depth research of coroner's
decisions and autopsy rates ever conducted in Nebraska. Spencer found murder cases remain unsolved, coroners skip autopsies to save money and in one case a man murdered a woman in Texas two months after his wife died a suspicious death in Nebraska.

Second place went to Jeremy Kohler of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for relentlessly pursing police stories that provided readers
with in-depth scrutiny of St. Louis Police and the department of corrections. Seth Robbins, formerly of The Daytona Beach News-Journal,
was awarded special recognition for a series on the 60-year-old murders of a young couple on the beach. He is now a reporter for Stars
and Stripes in Germany.

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