Ken Armstrong, an investigative reporter whose work prompted the Illinois governor to declare a moratorium on executions, has been named winner of the 2009 John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism. Armstrong, formerly of the Chicago Tribune and now at the Seattle Times, was selected for the depth and impact of his coverage of the criminal justice system.
The award, honoring longtime NBC News anchor John Chancellor, is presented each year to a reporter for his or her cumulative accomplishments. It is administered by the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. At the Chicago Tribune, he wrote, with Steve Mills, a five-part series, “The Failure of the Death Penalty In Illinois.” Citing the series, then-Illinois Gov. George Ryan declared a moratorium on executions in January 2000. “Ken Armstrong is an extraordinary example of the best of our profession. His work has made a lasting impression on the communities, big and small, in which he has lived and worked,” said Seattle Times Executive Editor David Boardman. “He writes with force about people with power and writes with sensitivity about people journalists tend to dismiss.”