2022 California Journalism Awards - Print Division

Writing ( Dailies: 50,001 & over) Back

  • Place Name: First Place
    Contestant Name: Los Angeles Times
    Entry Title: California’s abandoned homesteads fascinated me as a kid. Then my childhood home became one
    Entry Credit: Melody Gutierrez
    Judge Comment: On its face, Melody Gutierrez’s construct for this story was simple: Return to her childhood home in the desert just east of Twentynine Palms. But Gutierrez takes the reader on a revelatory journey, unraveling the complexities of her former life as she revisits Raymond Drive with her mother and then tries unsuccessfully to create a Hallmark movie moment with her 12-year-old son. From the discarded Barbie doll in her old bedroom to the family names carved into the patio, Gutierrez’s eye for detail and her willingness to lay bare the struggles of her childhood in Wonder Valley combine to deliver an evocative story that allows the reader to experience first-hand the dusty roads that slowly dismantle cars and the now-dilapidated shack that Gutierrez once called home.
  • Place Name: Second Place
    Contestant Name: The San Diego Union-Tribune
    Entry Title: A cold case heats up after 3 decades. But the DNA delivers a surprise.
    Entry Credit: John Wilkens
    Judge Comment: John Wilkens’ investigation into a decades-old cold case is a slow burn that draws the reader in and makes it impossible to look away. Brick by brick, detail by detail, Wilkens constructs a compelling whodunit that is filled with plot twists, dead ends and complex characters who aren’t what they appear to be. He is a master storyteller whose dogged, in-depth reporting undergirds a suspenseful narrative that will leave every reader champing at the bit to dive into Part II and Part III of this series.
  • Place Name: Third Place
    Contestant Name: Los Angeles Times
    Entry Title: The amazing story of Reggie, L.A.’s celebrity alligator
    Entry Credit: Corinne Purtill
    Judge Comment: Corinne Purtill’s beautifully told tale about Reggie, the most famous alligator in Los Angeles, is a wild ride and a charming mix of mystery, humor and even romance. This story is filled with pleasant surprises and laugh-out-loud writing flourishes, from the details about gator footprints when Reggie escapes to the deadpan observation that “if you think it’s easy for two alligators to pair up later in life without trying to bite each other’s limbs off, well, you don’t know a lot about alligators.” The headline on this story doesn’t overpromise: This is in fact an “amazing story,” in large part due to Purtill’s exhaustive reporting and pitch-perfect writing that leave every reader rooting for Reggie.
  • Competition Comment: None