AOPA honored three journalists with the Max Karant Journalism Award for their fair, accurate, and insightful coverage of general aviation. The awards were presented during the opening luncheon at Expo on Nov. 6.
“Too often we see reporters in the general news media who are pressed by deadlines and who lack an understanding of general aviation provide their audiences with an incomplete or inaccurate portrayal of general aviation, despite the best of intentions,” said Karen Gebhart, AOPA executive vice president of communications. “But these three winners really took the time and helped their audiences understand some pretty complex issues.”
“AOPA Pilot” Editor In Chief Tom Haines presented the awards during the opening luncheon. Award-winning articles focused on FAA funding, the benefits of general aviation, and learning to fly.
In May 2007, at the height of the Congressional debate over the FAA reauthorization bill and how to fund the agency, Paul Moses, a pilot and reporter at WLKY-TV in Louisville, Ky., prepared a two-part report to help his audience comprehend a complex issue.
As a pilot, Moses knew the importance of the debate to both general aviation and the airlines. As a reporter, he knew that his audience probably did not understand the issue or its importance to them.
Using interviews with then-FAA Administrator Marion Blakey and several local pilots, Moses presented both sides of the debate over whether or not to continue to use taxes to fund the FAA or switch to a user fee-funded system. He let the pilots explain the importance of general aviation to their business and personal lives.
At the end of the two parts, Moses’s audience had a much clearer picture of what was at stake, the value of general aviation, and why it was important not to consider only the airlines’ point of view.
During the luncheon, Moses credited his wife, who is a pilot, for helping him to earn his pilot about three years ago.
“Looking Out For The General Good”
At a time when airline interests were telling reporters that general aviation takes an unfair share of the ticket taxes paid by airline passengers, Marla Boone, a columnist with the Troy Daily News in Troy, Ohio, and like Moses, a pilot, took the time to provide her readers with a more nuanced explanation of general aviation.
Boone took on the misconceptions about general aviation, the charitable aspects of public benefit flying, and explained how general aviation affects many facets of everyday life. She made sure her readers understood the positive economic impact that community airports have.
By explaining both the scope and the economics of general aviation, Boone helped her readers understand why what goes on at the community airport is important to them.
Boone, a 27-year AOPA member, was emotional as she accepted the award, saying, “It’s a big honor to be here, and I appreciate it.”
“Art of Flying”
“I flew an airplane and didn’t crash.”
With those opening seven words, Albert McKeon, reporter for The Telegraph in Nashua, N.H., took on the one fear so many non-pilots face the first time they go up in a general aviation aircraft.
Assuming the role of Everyman, McKeon took an introductory flight at a local flight school. From the outset, he made his readers understand that flying is safe, and is something that just about anyone can do with the proper training. McKeon explained the wonder of a view from half a mile up and addressed the case of nerves that can set in when a nonpilot first takes the controls.
McKeon’s article helped readers experience the thrill of a first flight second-hand, and at the same time let them know that this is something that they, too, could do.
“It was a real pleasure to be up there in the air,” McKeon told AOPA members of his first flight experience.
AOPA presents the Max Karant Journalism Awards to members of the nonaviation-trade media in recognition of fair, accurate, and insightful coverage of general aviation. The awards are presented at AOPA Expo. In addition to a framed certificate, each award carries a $1,000 honorarium.