2020 California Journalism Awards - Digital Division

Public Service Journalism ( Monthly Unique Visitors: 100,000 & under)Back

  • Place Name: First Place
    Contestant Name: Pleasanton Weekly
    Entry Title: 2020 Tri-Valley candidate forum series
    Entry Credit: Jeremy Walsh, Gina Channell, Ryan Degan, Julia Baum, Cierra Bailey
    Judge Comment: Providing the public with access to local government and supporting democracy are some of the fundamentals of journalism, and the staff of the Pleasanton Weekly went above and beyond in their quest to fulfill their duty in those areas. Their reporting on the candidates, issues and forums was top-notch, and when compounded by the fact that they set up and moderated these forums and during a pandemic and while completing their "regular" jobs, it's almost unfathomable that the staff was able to accomplish this without having some wide variety of super powers. This is the type of journalism and newsroom that I will teach to my reporting public affairs students for years, as it represents the very best of what we can be and do as local journalists when we try hard enough to make it happen. The design isn't fancy, but it doesn't have to be when the writing and reporting are as solid as it is here. This is good, old-fashioned reporting at its best, and the timeline behind it all again makes me wonder if super powers came into play. This team and the Pleasanton Weekly truly did its community a tremendous public service.
  • Place Name: Second Place
    Contestant Name: Capital & Main
    Entry Title: When COVID-19 Hit L.A. Nursing Homes, Where Was the County’s Department of Public Health?
    Entry Credit: Danny Feingold, Dan Ross
    Judge Comment: This series stood out for its deep, thorough reporting, use of public records and data, reader-friendly layout (nice use of breakout quotes) and prolific hyperlinks, to name a few of its many standout features. This was easily the most comprehensive look I've seen into COVID-19's spread within nursing homes, and the effort that went into this is obvious. So is the public service effect of this story, as it's clear that Capital & Main (and largely Mr. Feingold) forced the county to take action (more than once) through its dogged and tireless pursuit of the truth. I am curious what the effect has been of C&M's investigation into the HFID, but even without knowing that, this work overall is a solid example of what public service journalism should be and do.
  • Place Name: Third Place
    Contestant Name: ChicoSol
    Entry Title: Butte County Latinos hit hardest by pandemic
    Entry Credit: Leslie Layton
    Judge Comment: The public service effect of Ms. Layton's July article is impossible to miss in the subsequent two entries, and I applaud ChicoSol on its efforts to highlight a disparity and follow that reporting through. I will be interested in seeing the one-year story and will make sure to look for it. Ms. Layton's writing style was straightforward and approachable, and the story was not bogged down with data. I like the use of a narrative lede in the second article and found the main source a compelling "character" and found myself cheering for her group. This is classic and clean public service journalism.
  • Place Name: Fourth Place
    Contestant Name: The Malibu Times
    Entry Title: The Woolsey Fire's Two-Year Anniversary
    Entry Credit: Emily Sawicki
    Judge Comment: This is solid and thorough reporting in a category with very stiff competition. I appreciated the structure of the series, with the recap and introduction stories preceding the bulk of the new information. Ms. Sawicki's firsthand knowledge of the fire, deep sourcing and methodical reporting provided readers with a large swath of information and very macro view of what has happened during the two years since (changes implemented for safety, updates from public officials, the lingering effect on nature and wildlife, etc.)
  • Place Name: Fifth Place
    Contestant Name: Coachella Valley Independent
    Entry Title: Daily Digest
    Entry Credit: Jimmy Boegle
    Judge Comment: Consolidating the most important daily news items into a digestible and accessible form was a great idea and the reach and effect on the public was impressive, but the competition was fierce in this category. I have seen other types of news digests, but I really thought the editor's note in every issue was unique and a very user-friendly way to reach your audience.