By Amelia Kibbe
For Daveen Rae Kurutz, winning the Pennsylvania Women’s Press Association Reporter of the Year award was a career goal.
For the second year in a row, the total number of points for the Beaver County Times reporter’s winning entries received in the contest’s 21 categories placed her at the top.
“I have always had so much respect for the women who won this award every year,” Kurutz, an 11-year PWPA member and former president, said. “It’s humbling.”
After spending eight years at Trib Total Media in Pittsburgh, Kurutz, now also an adjunct professor at Point Park University, moved to the Times nearly three years ago to do database work and special projects.
Her winning entries included a first place in sports, health and education; second in business; and third in series.
Her favorite entries, though, included the health and business categories, both part of a series called “Confronting Cancer.”
“From the minute my executive editor pulled me aside in the hallway and told me about it, I knew that I wanted to tell the story,” she said. “2016 was a difficult year as both my parents were diagnosed with cancer….I was fortunate enough to find a woman in Beaver County who told me her story while she was going through breast cancer. It means the world to me that that story won a first place award.”
The second-place business award also told the story of a woman battling breast cancer, and Kurutz described the shoeboxes of unpaid bills the woman had stored in her house.
It’s this type of stories—ones about people—that Kurutz said make her love the field she entered.
“One of my mentors always said, ‘We have been charged to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,’ ” she said. “I think we lose sight of that as journalists. There’s no story that’s too small. There’s no story that not important enough for your time.”