Terri Hahn, 2011 Runner-up Beth Miller Named NFPW National Communicator of Achievement for 2011
Council Bluffs, Iowa—The National Federation of Press Women named News Journal staff reporter Beth Miller, of Wilmington, Delaware, its Communicator of Achievement for 2011 at the annual NFPW conference in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on September 9. The runner-up is Terri Hahn, of Osceola, Nebraska, features editor for the Grand Island (Neb.) Independent.
The award, presented annually to members who have distinguished accomplishments within the profession and in service to community, is the highest honor NFPW bestows. Entrants from across the country are nominated by their local NFPW affiliates. Miller is a past president and current board member of the Delaware affiliate. Hahn has served the Nebraska affiliate as president, vice president, historian, newsletter editor and publicity director.
An award-winning reporter for The (Wilmington) News Journal, Miller is assigned to cover some of the highest profile stories in Delaware and around the U.S., among them: the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Delaware's troops in Afghanistan, the Delaware governor's race, the clergy sex scandal, and the earthquake in Haiti. In addition to being named the organization's Communicator of Achievement for 2011, Miller received a national first place award in the Communications Contest for her special feature series called "Heartbreak in Haiti."
A graduate of Wheaton College, in Illinois, with a degree in political science, Miller has been employed by the Wilmington News Journal for 30 years.
She has covered sports from Little League to the majors and twice represented her paper at the Olympic Games, traveling to Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, in 1984, and to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, in 1988.
Later in 1988, she was assigned to the newsroom of the paper's Maryland bureau to cover general assignment stories and was given the chance to learn the ropes in the courts and how to cover crime, fires, schools, government, politics, culture and social services. Eventually, the paper built a separate edition around that bureau.
In 1996, Miller was called back to the main newsroom in Delaware. There she spent three and a half years covering education. In 1999, the city editor asked the question most reporters long to hear—"What would you write if you could write about anything?" Her answer—she would enjoy writing about Delaware's characters-the ones who might not otherwise make headlines, but who have a great story to tell. That exchange developed into "Delaware Journal," 70-plus in-depth profiles of fellow Delawareans.
On September 11, 2001, Miller was assigned to produce much of her paper's coverage of the terrorist attacks, interviewing local people who lost friends and relatives at Ground Zero that day.
As part of that coverage, the paper sent Miller to Afghanistan twice in 2002 to write about Delaware troops deployed there.
Later that year, after the clergy abuse scandal broke in the Boston Globe, Miller was among the reporters who covered that issue in Delaware.
Several times, The News Journal sent Miller to cover the aftermath of natural disasters. In 2006, after Hurricane Katrina, when she and a photographer were dispatched to the Gulf Coast, accommodations were no more than a few square yards of floor space at the Hattiesburg (Ala.) American and a cot at the Biloxi (Miss.) Herald. They drove for hours to cover the damage left in the wake of the storm and found Delawareans providing help as volunteers passing out food, offering trauma counseling and working to restore power.
In January 2010, Miller was sent to accompany a team of Delaware medical professionals who rushed to the aid of those injured in the 7.0 earthquake in Haiti. There she wrote two or three stories a day, mostly on her BlackBerry. She also used Twitter to provide real-time updates and photos.
After she returned from Haiti, Miller spoke to a number of community organizations and school groups about her experience and the continuing needs of the Haitians and other people in need.
"I am thankful for those who entrust their stories to journalists and open their lives to us so that we can give readers and viewers a glimpse into parts of the world they might not otherwise experience or understand," Miller said. "Sometimes, especially when covering political issues, campaigns and government, I walk a fine line between warring camps. One of my fiercest goals is to give respectful coverage of opposing views, giving sources the chance to make the best argument they can, while giving readers the context they need to understand those arguments and develop their own informed opinions."
Hahn has been the features editor of the Grand Island Independent for 18 years, She has won numerous awards for reporting, editing and page layout. A volunteer who makes the world around her better, she has been a Lamaze coach for women in labor and has helped a national charity build support for its fund raising efforts on behalf of hearing-impaired people. Hahn has been a member of NFPW since 1990 and of NPW since 1993.
NFPW is a diverse organization of professional communicators--men as well as women--that for more than 70 years, has promoted professional excellence, the highest standards of journalism, equal opportunity in all fields of communications, and the rights and responsibilities of the First Amendment. NFPW members enjoy professional development opportunities, national networking, annual communications contests for professional communicators and high school journalists, a quarterly newsletter and more. Visit the NFPW website at www.NFPW.org.