Frank Munger, U.S. Department of Energy reporter for the Knoxville News Sentinel, received a Muddy Boot Award from the East Tennessee Economic Council during a retirement celebration on Wednesday.
Munger is retiring today (June 30) after 35 years covering DOE for the News Sentinel. Many consider him to be the best DOE reporter in the DOE complex. It’s not clear if he will be replaced. Some have said he is irreplaceable.
Among those who praised Munger’s work and “shoe-leather” journalism on Wednesday, even if DOE wasn’t always pleased with his stories, were current and former DOE and contractor officials Gerald Boyd, Sue Cange, Dave Keim, Thom Mason, Billy Stair, and Jim Alexander. They recalled humorous moments; his pocket-sized voice recorder, which he was carrying Wednesday; the occasional arguments; and his ability to translate stories about complex subjects such as the Spallation Neutron Source into language that people without scientific training could understand. They also presented Munger with mementos, including a framed collection of photos from Oak Ridge National Laboratory showing Munger at work over the years, reporting at the lab.
“I can say without reservation that you were always accurate and fair in your reporting—mostly,” said Boyd, a former DOE Oak Ridge Office manager who was unable to attend but delivered his message through a sometimes-humorous letter to Munger. “You always tried to tell all sides of each story, and we all appreciated that even when the story was hard to accept. Your studied approach to reporting on things DOE Oak Ridge always kept the important issues visible and in the forefront, forcing us to have to deal with them. I believe that made us a better operation. In particular, your in-depth articles on various Oak Ridge programs, projects, and activities were excellent tutorials for the general public and helped us explain the value of the Oak Ridge missions. We will miss that.” [Read more…]