Press Democrat wins 23 awards in CNPA California Journalism Awards
The Press Democrat was honored Saturday by the California News Publishers Association with eight first-place awards, including the top award for general excellence for the second consecutive year.
Overall, the newspaper received 23 awards in 22 categories at the annual CNPA California Journalism Awards. In most categories, the entries were judged against work produced by daily newspapers in California with 15,000 to 50,000 subscribers. In five of the categories — including online general excellence, public service journalism and video journalism — it was matched against the largest newspapers in the state.
“We are grateful for the recognition of our peers among California’s journalists, especially for the sustained work by our staff in persistently detailing the changes to our community after the wildfires,” said Catherine Barnett, executive editor of The Press Democrat.
The awards, which recognized journalism published in 2018, were presented at a gala dinner held in Southern California at The Westin Long Beach hotel.
The newspaper won first place for general excellence based on two editions of the newspaper in September that featured coverage of the one-year anniversary of the 2017 wildfires.
“The Press Democrat owned the fire aftermath coverage,” the judges wrote. “Compelling writing and deep reporting.”
Other first-place awards included:
— In-Depth Reporting, for a series of Page 1 stories and 11 special sections that chronicled the rebuilding underway in Sonoma County following the wildfires.
— Local Government Coverage, for a series of stories examining government’s response to the wildfires, during and after the disaster. The stories, by reporters Julie Johnson, Kevin McCallum and J.D. Morris, revealed the absence of a protocol for 911 dispatchers to provide clear advice to the public; problems with the water system in Fountaingrove that inhibited the firefight; internal efforts to manage the backlash over the county’s failure to issue more widespread alerts during the early hours of the firestorm; and hard lessons from the fire that are leading to better emergency preparedness.
“Thorough, in-depth reporting and persistence are evident in each of these stories. Thanks to these pieces community members got some answers to crucial questions that some officials weren’t ready to provide yet. A good example of serving readers and holding their elected and appointed leaders accountable,” the judge wrote.
— Youth/Education Reporting, for a series of stories by staff about how local schools were impacted by the wildfires. “This is clearly the best, most comprehensive story I’ve read about the Northern California fires. The Press Democrat did an outstanding job of looking at the effects of the fire from a students/teachers perspective and how they are recovering,” the judge wrote.
— Writing, for a story by Mary Callahan about the residents of a Mark West Springs neighborhood that were trapped by flames but, despite daunting odds, managed to survive.
— Arts & Entertainment Coverage, for two consecutive SonomaGo sections published in May 2018. “These were fun, engaging reads that looked great on the page. The music coverage is enviable, from the thoughtful profile of a cover band to the profiles of a diverse group of local musicians to the breakdown of festival lineups/tips that make the reader feel invited to the party. The writing and the photos are uniformly strong,” the judge wrote.