2020 California Journalism Awards - Print Division

Public Service Journalism ( Dailies: 50,001 & over,Dailies: 15,001 - 50,000,Dailies: 15,000 & under)Back

  • Place Name: First Place
    Contestant Name: The Fresno Bee
    Entry Title: Contaminated drinking water in the San Joaquin Valley: A
    Entry Credit: Monica Vaughan, Tim Sheehan, Nathalie Vera, John Walker
    Judge Comment: This series of articles could almost define public service journalism: Bad drinking water provision and regulation was put under the microscope, starting with granular detail in one small area and sweeping out to cover a large part of California's central valley. It went after how and why things went wrong and offered practical information and online tools to help readers protect themselves and their community's health.
  • Place Name: Second Place
    Contestant Name: The San Diego Union-Tribune
    Entry Title: RETURNED -- Part I: Protecting the most vulnerable Part II: Who gets asylum? Part III: Fear of death Part IV: The system is broken
    Entry Credit: Kate Morrissey, Nelvin Cepeda, Lauryn Schroeder
    Judge Comment: The flaws and gaps in the United States system for seeking asylum. An excellent, massive report involving on-ground international research and deep database number-crunching, focused heavily on the human experience of the situation. The danger - from many directions - involved in the reporting makes the result the more remarkable, as amid the proliferation of reporting on the asylum system.
  • Place Name: Third Place
    Contestant Name: The Desert Sun
    Entry Title: Desert Sun: Private prisons and immigration detention centers
    Entry Credit: Rebecca Plevin
    Judge Comment: Here's a terrific example of serious, important and results-rich investigative reporting, a massive, intensive project from a paper that isn't among the state's top metros. It carefully and with excellent investigative work tracks a series of backroom deals with one of the nation's largest private prison businesses out of the small city of Adelanto, and largely out of public view (until it blew up into a local controversy). Deeply impressive for its writing, organization, depth and perspective. The series notes that Adelanto likes to call itself "The city with unlimited possibilities"; the series nails how those possibilities aren't all good ones, for that city or for others the paper located.
  • Place Name: Fourth Place
    Contestant Name: Los Angeles Times
    Entry Title: Our Reckoning With Racism
    Entry Credit: L.A. Times Staff
    Judge Comment: A massive undertaking with many lengthy articles and exhibits, including an essay from its owner and a history of the paper through the lens of racism. Through it all what stuck out most (and they gave it some prominence) was a headline from 1981: “Marauders From Inner City Prey on L.A.’s Suburbs.” It's so highly unusual, strongly positive in many ways but tangled in its mission in some others (there's a pervading sense almost of pleading for forgiveness), that it's hard to compare properly with any of the other submissions.
  • Place Name: Fifth Place
    Contestant Name: The Tribune
    Entry Title: Substandard of living series: Tribune investigation: What it’s like for SLO County renters stuck in bad housing
    Entry Credit: Lindsey Holden, Cassandra Garibay, Laura Dickinson
    Judge Comment: Another fine and extensive series on the world as it is for lower-income renters: terrible housing, sky-high prices, little information or recourse. There's also useful reader service information.Much of this isn't really new, but the detail and the bluntness of the presentation certainly puts it in the reader's face, where it belongs.