Reporter Ronald Kessler of The Washington Post has won a George Polk Memorial Award, given by Long Island University, for his series of articles detailing corruption in the General Services Administration.
The prize was the second Polk award for Kessler, 35, who was cited by the university in 1973 for community service because of two series of articles he wrote -- one describing conflicts of interest at nonprofit hospitals in the Washington area and the other revealing kickbacks and hidden fees contained in settlement costs charged to area home buyers.
The Polk awards were established in 1949 to honor a CBS correspondent killed a year earlier while covering the Greek civil war.
The prizes, announced yesterday, included two that the university -- for the first time -- awarded posthumously. They went to NBC News correspondent Don Harris and camerman Bob Brown, who were killed last November with three others, including Rep. Leo J. Ryan (D-Calif.), after visiting Jonestown, Guyana.
Other winners were Eddie Adams of The Associated Press for photographs of the Rhodesian civil war (the third Polk prize for Adams); John F. Burns, John Darnton and Michael T. Kaufman of The New York Times for coverage of Africa; Jane Shoemaker, Thomas Ferrick Jr. and William Ecenbargar of the Philadelphia Inquirer for their eight-month investigation of corruption in the Pennsylvania legislature; the Dallas Times-Herald for its coverage of the deaths of Mexican Americans at the hands of Texas law enforcement officers, and Russell Baker of The New York Times for the "undiminished acuteness of his satirical essays."
Richard S. Salant, retiring president of CBS News, won a special award "for a career distinguished for his concern for integrity and independence in news gathering."
Other awards went to Southern Exposure, a quarterly journal of the Institute of Southern Studies, for its accounts of the culture and politics of the South; the Chronicle of Higher Education for "knowledgeable and thorough coverage of college administration in the United States," and Golden West Television Productions of Los Angeles for its documentary film, "Scared Straight," which shows juvenile crime-prevention programs conducted by convicts at New Jersey's Rahway State Prison.