Tom Zind accepts his Barr Award

Electrical Construction and Maintenance writer recognized for work on noncombat military deaths, injuries in Iraq.

ASBPE has honored Tom Zind as its 2010 Stephen Barr Award winner for his enterprising article “A Killer in the Ranks.” The 2009 story, featured in Electrical Construction and Maintenance (EC&M) magazine, explored how unsafe electrical systems caused noncombat military deaths, injuries, and property damage among American troops serving in Iraq.

Presenting the award to Zind at the ASBPE Western regional awards banquet at the Plaza III restaurant in Kansas City, former ASBPE national vice president Amy Fischbach noted that Zind’s article went beyond the finger-pointing being done by the Pentagon, Congress and contractors over the electrocutions, and emphasized the corrective course for the deadly and much-overlooked problem.

Zind, who lives in Lee’s Summit, Mo., is a 1979 graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism, and has worked as a freelancer for the last 13 years. His editor at EC&M, Mike Eby, called Zind a skilled writer known for well-researched, engaging and easy-to-read journalism. “The entire EC&M team is thrilled to see him honored for his work on this tragic story that hit close to home with many of our readers,” Eby said.

Said the Stephen Barr Award judges: “Tom Zind’s report is chilling, not only because of the disturbing subject matter — the deaths of soldiers from clearly preventable electrical wiring flaws — but because of the way he combines terrific interviews, a clear description of the problem, and plausible solutions.” The judges called his story “an outstanding piece of public service reporting (that) synthesizes congressional testimony and original reporting to both document and explain a serious, indeed fatal, problem for the American military in Iraq. The article is written with authority, displaying expert knowledge of the subject, yet it is accessible, vivid and easily understood.”

The Stephen Barr Award, now in its seventh year, is a “best in class” prize going to the journalist for a business-to-business publication whose work most reflects the qualities of inventiveness of approach, insight, balance in the presentation of a complex subject, depth of investigation, and impact among the community of readers. Those qualities were typical of the work of Stephen Barr, a senior contributing editor of CFO magazine and perennial ASBPE award-winner who died in 2002, at age 43. The award, which comes with a $500 check, is endowed by his family and administered by the ASBPE Foundation.