Five years ago, as part of its efforts to enhance the visibility of archaeology in the media, SAA's Public Relations Committee established a press award. My purpose here is to present a history of our effort and to call upon you to help in fostering the award.
In 1993, the society instituted the Gene S. Stuart Award to be presented annually to a journalist who had written an outstanding article or series of articles on an archaeological topic in a large-circulation, daily newspaper. Although intended to be a national, even international, award, practical considerations compelled us to restrict potential entrants to the region of the Annual Meeting.
The award is named to honor the late Gene Stuart, a prolific author and managing editor of National Geographic Books, who was devoted to presenting archaeology in high-quality, popular books. Among the books she coauthored with George E. Stuart are Discovering Man's Past in the Americas (1969) and The Mysterious Maya (1977).
To date, recipients of the Stuart Award have been from central and western states. The 1996 honoree (New Orleans meeting), Matt Crenson, then of the Dallas Morning News, moved on to become science editor for Associated Press and is now a producer for Discovery T.V. The 1998 recipient (Seattle meeting) was Diedtra Henderson of the Seattle Times. She continues to cover archaeological and related topics, notably "Kennewick Man," the subject of her award-winning article.
At the Annual Meeting, the region for the next year's award is defined, based upon proximity to the meeting site. In the fall, letters inviting entries are mailed to the managing and appropriate special-assignment editors of all daily newspapers with circulations of 25,000 or higher in the region. Entries are rank-ordered by the Award Committee members and I tabulate the results and forward material (citations and so on) to SAA's office. The SAA president invites the recipient to the Annual Meeting where he or she is recognized at the business meeting and receives an engraved plaque.
The "invitation" procedure does not always produce a torrent of entrants, although this year the Award Committee was treated to numerous accounts of Kennewick Man. Therefore, we are asking SAA members to help us increase the number of participants by noting well-written archaeological articles and encouraging their authors to submit them to the committee. We emphasize that the writer or newspaper editor must submit the entry.
In terms of content, the criteria for the Stuart Award are straightforward and open-ended. A writer or editor may submit up to five single articles or a series of a maximum of five related articles on any archaeological topic without any geographic or temporal restrictions. Award-winning stories have focused upon such topics as the looting of sites, cultural and climatological evidence used to reconstruct the emergence of food-production in four regions of the world, and ethical issues surrounding the recovery and investigation of human remains. Subjects should be presented so that they foster public understanding of, and appreciation for, the goals of archaeology.
Procedural criteria for the 1999 award are as follows: the story must appear during calendar year 1998, in a daily newspaper with circulation of at least 25,000, published within the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin; the entrant must submit six copies of each article or series to the address below by January 15, 1999.
The Award Committee, composed of David Pendergast, chair, Public Relations Committee; Antoinette Moore, member, SAA Public Relations Committee; Roy Blackwood, professor of journalism, Bemidji State University; and Alan P. Brew, professor of anthropology, Bemidji State University, asks for your help in recognizing and generating high-quality, general-interest writing about archaeology.
Entries and all inquiries should be sent to Alan P. Brew, Anthropology Program, Bemidji State University, Bemidji, MN 56601-2699, (218) 755-3778, fax (218) 755-2822, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alan P. Brew is professor of anthropology at Bemidji State University.