Washington, D.C. – Jan. 29, 2013 – Zahira Torres, a reporter with the El Paso Times, is the recipient of GOVERNING magazine’s 10th annual Hovey-Harkness Award, which recognizes outstanding excellence in state or local public service journalism.
Over the past nine months, Torres helped uncover a massive cheating scandal within the El Paso Independent School District, in which school administrators manipulated student test scores—as well as transferring underperforming students to charter schools, and prohibiting others from ever even taking state-mandated tests—in order to inflate achievement scores and earn bonuses for the schools and administrators. Through numerous state Public Information Act requests and many in-depth articles over the past several months, Torres has brought the scandal to public attention and documented it as it unfolded.
Since the Times’ series began, numerous El Paso school district officials have resigned or been fired; federal prosecutors sentenced the former superintendent to three and a half years in prison; and other top-level officials could face criminal prosecution. A timeline of all the Times’ coverage can be found at http://bit.ly/148pmgd.
Torres is a 13-year veteran of the El Paso Times, having written for the neighborhoods, business and metro sections of the newspaper. She covered the military and public education before moving to Austin in 2009 to serve as the newspaper's one-person capital bureau.
The Hovey‐Harkness award, which includes a $3,000 cash grant, is presented at GOVERNING’s annual Outlook in the States and Localities conference in Washington, D.C. It is named in memory of the late Hal Hovey, a dedicated public official, scholar and reporter, who died in 1999, and for Peter Harkness, the founding editor and publisher of GOVERNING, and a long‐time journalist who has covered state and local government for more than three decades.
Now in its 25th year, GOVERNING has provided state and local leaders with the non-partisan information, insight and intelligence needed to govern effectively. As a catalyst for innovation, GOVERNING is dedicated to covering the politics, policies and programs essential to this audience. The most influential and senior-level public officials turn to GOVERNING for the trusted information they can’t find anywhere else. See www.governing.com. GOVERNING is published by e.Republic, a national publishing, event and research company focused on smart media for public sector innovation. See www.erepublic.com.
Zach Patton, Executive Editor