Advertiser Democrat wins coveted Polk award

The Advertiser Democrat of Norway has earned a prestigious George Polk Award for its in-depth report in October on poor living conditions in low-income housing in western Maine.

Polk awards are among journalism’s top honors. Winners announced along with the Advertiser Democrat on Feb. 20 included The New York Times, The New Yorker and the Wall Street Journal. The Maine weekly won for Local Reporting.

The award recognizes Editor A.M. Sheehan and Assistant Editor Matt Hongoltz-Hetling for their three-month investigation exposing dismal conditions in which residents who get Section 8 assistance lived in Norway and neighboring Paris.

The Maine State Housing Authority, an administrator of the program, began an investigation within a few hours of the piece’s publication on Oct. 27. Since then, oversight has improved and tenants have been relocated.

In notifying the paper of its award, John Darnton, curator of the George Polk Awards, said “it was an easy choice … judges agreed that your work was extraordinarily reported and written and carried a major impact.”

The 2011 George Polk Awards will be presented at a luncheon at The Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan on April 5. Read more in the Advertiser Democrat.