The Malheur Enterprise has won a national award for its tenacious reporting and pursuit of public records in the Anthony Montwheeler case.
The University of Nevada’s Reynolds School of Journalism this week announced the selection of the Enterprise for its Frank McCulloch Award. The award recognizes journalists who demonstrate courage in resisting intimidation, whether from political or corporate powers, in their coverage of important issues.
Enterprise publisher Les Zaitz will receive the award Wednesday, Sept. 20 in Reno, where he is scheduled to speak to professional journalists and students.
A release about the selection noted the challenges in covering the Montwheeler story.
Montwheeler has been charged with kidnapping and killing an ex-wife in January and then killing Vale resident David Bates and injuring his wife Jessica in a collision during a police pursuit.
The Enterprise obtained state records showing that Montwheeler had been released from the Oregon State Hospital less than a month earlier despite doctors’ opinions he could be a danger to the community. Montwheeler in 1997 was founded guilty but insane in an earlier kidnapping and was released from state control when he insisted he had faked his mental illness.
In pursuing state records, the Enterprise was sued by a state agency that wanted to keep its documents confidential. Gov. Kate Brown stepped in to get the suit dropped and the records released.