LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It was a day to honor fearless, hard-hitting journalism at the annual Hector San Miguel Memorial Luncheon held Thursday at the L'Auberge Casino Resort Ballroom in Lake Charles.
The Hector Award, as it's known, was given this year to the late Shawn Martin, the American Press reporter whose work helped expose how Washington lobbyists were bilking the Coushatta Tribe out of millions of dollars.
Martin's work developing the records that revealed the scandal has been called a roadmap for larger papers such as The Washington Post.
The story went nationwide, and Martin was featured in "Casino Jack and the United States of Money," a 2010 documentary on Abramoff.
But Martin was also known for his community journalism. The DeRidder native worked for years as the Bureau Chief of the Beauregard/Vernon Bureau of the American Press. He was also an award-winning photographer.
Coushatta Tribe Counsel Member David Sickey said that Martin's work shows that you can be from a small town and still do great things.
"Here, in this case, as far as the Coushatta story is concerned, Shawn helped us uncover greed and corruption at the highest levels. And that's a remarkable story itself. And that just shows the average citizen that media is a powerful tool and you can use it in great ways," Sickey said.
The award is in memory of investigative journalist Hector San Miguel who died of leukemia three years ago this month. Martin died in February at the age of 48.
In part, the Hector Award is given for relentless pursuit of the truth in the field of journalism.