Globe columnist Brian McGrory wins journalism award; recognized for helping late priest clear his name and ‘cutting to the core of Mitt Romney’

The Boston Globe’s Brian McGrory has won a 2011 Scripps Howard Award for his Metro section columns, the Scripps Howard Foundation announced today.

Brian McGrory

The national awards are presented annually to recognize the “best work in the communications industry and journalism education.”

McGrory, a former Globe metro editor, took the top prize for commentary for an array of thought-provoking pieces about “big events and small moments,” the foundation said.

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The foundation noted a column about a late South Shore priest, Reverend Charles Murphy, who was twice cleared of touching a minor decades earlier, and another column that the foundation said cut “to the core” of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Other columns for which McGrory received the award ranged from an account of a quiet encounter with former president George H.W. Bush at a Maine farmstand to a reminder that the lackluster 2011 Red Sox represented everything that Boston is not.

“Brian ranks among the best columnists in the country, and this prestigious award recognizes his distinct contributions as a supremely talented writer and provocative thinker,” Globe editor Martin Baron said today.

“His columns can be warm, they can be funny, or they can be biting. But each reflects the hard work of original reporting and, above all, a deep affection for his community,” Baron said.

The winning columns were “Collateral damage,” “Justice, finally, for Boston,” “Up from the ashes,” “These Red Sox not a good fit for Boston,” “The dignified statesman,” and “Mitt Romney’s biggest enemy: Mitt Romney.”

This is McGrory’s first Scripps Howard Award. He will receive a trophy and a $10,000 prize. The winners are selected by industry experts and will be honored April 26 in Detroit.