Eagle wins award for coverage of BTK

The Wichita Eagle's coverage last year of the BTK case — from Dennis Rader's arrest through his incarceration in the El Dorado Correctional Facility — has been honored with a top news enterprise award given at the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas.

The Eagle received the 2005 Burton W. Marvin Award, named after a former dean, on Friday from Ann Brill, current dean of the journalism school.

"We are very grateful to KU for recognizing a body of work that we are very proud of," said Sherry Chisenhall, the Eagle's editor.

"It was almost an entire staff effort. It was a difficult story to cover. It means a lot to us to have this recognition and honor," she said.

The Eagle shared the award with the Ottawa Herald. The Herald was honored for its story detailing what was behind the sudden retirement of an Ottawa educator.

In deciding the award, judges said that "The Eagle simply owned the BTK story" despite a judge sealing records and bans on comments from police and city officials.

The Eagle earned top evaluations from judges in all five criteria: Commitment to public service, professional execution, effective information gathering, accuracy and significance to readers.

"In more than one instance," one judge wrote, "The Eagle had been a conduit to the police when the BTK killer had sent information to the newspaper. Virtually everyone in the newsroom touched this coverage in one way or another."

The William Allen White Foundation, affiliated with the journalism school, has given the award since 1974.

The Eagle won the award in 2004 for its efforts to gain access to Kansas parolee records and in 2003 for its coverage of the Reginald and Jonathan Carr murder trial.