2022 California Journalism Awards - Print Division

Columns ( Dailies: 50,001 & over) Back

  • Place Name: First Place
    Contestant Name: San Francisco Chronicle
    Entry Title: Heather Knight: Columnist
    Entry Credit: Heather Knight
    Judge Comment: Heather Knight’s deep, if not horrific, dive into the drug culture and victims of San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood provides a glimpse into a world that most of us hope to never experience. At the same time, the loss of young life and the suffering of family members will leave most readers worried about how close to home this national epidemic caused by drugs, particularly fentanyl, really is to their own loved ones. The strongest aspect of Heather’s two columns is her connection to the victims and their families, offering the reader insight that is incredibly difficult to achieve. The fact that one column chronicles the loss of life and the other the rare success story, accentuate each other while making clear the horrors of this epidemic without lying to the reader that society is anywhere near defeating the problem.
  • Place Name: Second Place
    Contestant Name: Los Angeles Times
    Entry Title: Columns by Anita Chabria
    Entry Credit: Anita Chabria
    Judge Comment: Although one of Anita Chabria’s columns opened up with a scene from Vancouver, Canada, rather than California, it quickly became clear that her mission was to look at the Safe Haven solution that San Francisco’s Tenderloin and Los Angeles’ skid row might implement. In that column, Anita defines the issues, relating them to real victims and clearly explaining the pros and cons of potential policy decisions. Anita’s column on the mental health system offers a glimpse into how California has failed its residents as the writer intermixed policy and real life examples in an easy to understand and follow format.
  • Place Name: Third Place
    Contestant Name: Los Angeles Times
    Entry Title: Columns by Gustavo Arellano
    Entry Credit: Gustavo Arellano
    Judge Comment: What really makes Gustavo Arellano’s columns stand out is his sense of observation, particularly in the opening of his profile of L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. The piece, as well as the column on Nury Martinez’s rants, are greatly enhanced by the explanations of Spanish-language comments and descriptions. Both columns, coincidentally or not, boldly take issue with high-powered members of the very Latino community that Gustavo is covering.
  • Competition Comment: The most difficult facet of judging this category is the sheer weight difference in content material. For example, the horrors of the drug epidemic do not juxtapose well against the much lighter and far more fun topic of bubble tea or the important-to-consumers issue of PG&E billing missteps. Weightier topics are not always better, but in this case the three top columns were distinguished by the risks taken by the columnists, both in writing and research, and clear, distinctive writing that seemed most likely to impact the readers.