Times Wins Polk Awards for Music Industry, Fund-Raising Stories

Times staff writer Chuck Philips has won a George Polk journalism award for his detailed accounts of the inner workings of the music industry, and a team of Times reporters has won a Polk award for tracing funding from Asian sources to the coffers of the Democratic National Committee, some of which was in violation of federal law.

“We’re honored that Polk has rewarded these fine journalists,” said Times Editor and Executive Vice President Shelby Coffey III. “Both the team efforts in the funding stories and the individual efforts of Chuck Philips represent a commitment to the fair and probing journalism that our readers want and expect.”

The Times and the New York Times were the only newspapers to win two of the 1996 awards, which were announced Thursday.

Philips, who covers the music industry for The Times, won the award for cultural reporting. Philips has written stories about scandals over lip-syncing and sexual harassment in the music business, the continued use of “payola” to gain air time for records, and shake-ups at Time Warner’s music division.


The team of Times reporters won the award for political reporting. Their stories exposed numerous large contributions to the Democratic National Committee from sources in Tokyo, Beijing, Bangkok, Seoul and Taipei, some of them illegal. The story precipitated the return of more than $1 million and highlighted the issue of the influence of overseas interests in the U.S. election process.

Winners of the Polk awards, established in 1949 in honor of a CBS reporter killed while covering the Greek civil war, are chosen by a committee of faculty and alumni of Long Island University.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Seattle Times, the Progressive, the Buffalo News, CNN, Inside Edition and the Chicago Tribune were also Polk award winners.

The awards will be presented at a ceremony in New York on April 9.