Bringing home the gold

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I’m pleased to announce that Commercial Carrier Journal received the prestigious Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award at the annual awards ceremony on March 14 in New York City. CCJ Editorial Director Avery Vise’s monthly column was among 35 winners and 102 finalists selected from more than 1,000 entries.

The Neal award, presented annually by American Business Media for more than 50 years, recognizes editorial excellence in business-to-business media. Over the years, CCJ editors now have won 13 Neal awards, and this is the magazine’s third Neal in five years. Sister publications Overdrive and Truckers News also were finalists for the 2008 Neal awards.

Vise’s impressive resume already includes two previous Neals: one for his six-part “Cost of Risk” series from 2003, and another for his columns two years ago. I think that one reason his columns are so successful is that they challenge conventional wisdom in some way. For example, his January 2007 column “Regulation by numbers” argues that the current hours-of-service debate focuses on the science behind the rules and misses the real point. Instead, he suggests that we should worry more about reviewing actual experiences with the rules than focusing on their academic justification.

In his April 2007 column, “Reaching a new level of safety,” Vise points out that most calls for regulatory reform focus on the level of scrutiny (and, of course, paperwork) that fleets and drivers should endure based on their safety performance – but generally, nobody questions the notion that everyone should play by the same rules. Vise suggests that perhaps the rules themselves should be more flexible for carriers and drivers who prove to be operating safely. The June 2007 column “Paying attention to pay” suggests that while there are clear reasons to pay drivers by the mile, bigger concerns might dictate other approaches.

The final column Vise submitted to the competition was “Borderline hysteria” from October 2007, where he discussed that many in the trucking industry are focused on the risks for safety and competition if Mexican carriers are allowed to operate in the United States. In addition to exposing internal contradictions in opponents’ arguments against the cross-border program, this column warns that trucking critics like Public Citizen might persuade the public that some of the major criticisms of the Mexican safety regime also apply to U.S. safety oversight.

Congratulations to Vise and the whole editorial team for bringing home the top editorial honors and continuing the tradition of excellence you expect in these pages.