David Hechler Wins ASBPE’s 2014 Stephen Barr Award For Article on Toyota’s Fatal Acceleration Problems

David Hechler
David Hechler

David Hechler, executive editor of Corporate Counsel magazine, is the 2014 winner of ASBPE’s Stephen Barr Award for his article “Lost in Translation.” His April 2013 story was a retrospective of Toyota’s “sudden acceleration problem,” offering readers a behind-the scenes understanding of crisis management. The story also helped explain why so many legal problems remained for Toyota after a string of horrific accidents, and a recall crisis that many thought had blown over.

Hechler has been at Corporate Counsel since 2005, starting as a senior reporter and editor. For the four previous years he was a senior reporter and then associate editor at the National Law Journal, another publication of New York-based ALM Global.

A native of Long Island and a graduate of Grinnell College, he earned a masters degree in teaching at Brown University and taught secondary school English for seven years in California in what he calls “a previous life.” He then earned a masters from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and began covering legal affairs. His business-to-business work has been recognized by both ASBPE and American Business Media.

Stephen Barr Award judges called his Toyota article “an outstanding piece of public service journalism.” Said one judge, “The story engages an important issue and demonstrates an enterprising and investigative spirit, even as it displays fair-mindedness in the reporting. It is clear and direct, despite the complexity of the case.” Opening with a vivid description of a panicked 911 call placed from a runaway Toyota Lexus 250—just before a horrific 120 mile-an-hour crash killed its four occupants—“it’s a hard story to stop reading.”Corporate Counsel cover April 2013

Described by his boss, Corporate Counsel editor-in-chief Anthony Paonita as having “almost supernatural energy and enthusiasm,” Hechler lives in Larchmont in New York’s Westchester County with his wife Diana Hechler. He has two grown sons.

This is the 11th Stephen Barr Award to be presented. It is named for one of ASBPE’s most honored reporters, who died of cancer in 2002 at the age of 43. Unlike other ASPBE awards, it honors individual writing across our feature categories, and especially work that shows inventiveness, insight, balance, depth of investigation, and impact on readers. A check for $500 accompanies the award, endowed by Stephen Barr’s parents and administered by the not-for-profit ASBPE Foundation.

Download the article as a PDF