San Francisco Examiner reporter Michael Barba receives the 2019 Bill Workman Award for Excellence in News Writing at the San Francisco Press Club’s 42nd annual Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards at the Hilton San Francisco Airport Bayfront Hotel in Burlingame on Nov. 7. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Examiner honored for its excellence in journalism

The San Francisco Press Club honored Examiner staff writer Michael Barba with the Bill Workman Award this month for his October 2018 investigation into circumstances surrounding a San Francisco paramedic being accused of choking a woman in an ambulance.

It was the second time that Barba has received the honor and the award, named after the late San Francisco Chronicle reporter Bill Workman, and was among 10 first place honors earned by the Examiner and SF Weekly in news, commentary, sports, design and photography presented at the San Francisco Press Club’s 42nd annual Greater Bay Area Excellence in Journalism Awards

The Examiner, Managing Editor Sara Gaiser, Editor-in-Chief Deborah Petersen and the entire staff won first place in overall excellence, and On Guard columnist Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez was named best political columnist in the press club’s annual awards. SF Weekly earned a first place award for its coverage by Nuala Sawyer of the 2018 Paradise fire, and for Ida Mojadad’s story Who Judges the Judges? We Do.

Photo Editor Kevin Hume and Examiner Sports Editor Ryan Gorcey each received two first place awards. The club honored Gorcey for his piece “Barry Bonds is human after all, misses father during San Francisco number retirement ceremony” and for his December 2018 profile of University of San Francisco Dons basketball player Charles Minland. Hume’s photograph, “Seniors left behind,” which depicted a wheelchair in the parking lot of a nursing home that was destroyed in the Paradise fire won first place in the news photography category. His photograph of big waves that drew surfers to the Golden Gate won the features category.

“Seniors left behind” by Kevin N. Hume.

Barba’s story uncovered that a paramedic was accused of choking and breaking the arm of a woman who was threatening to take her own life. Raymond Lee, 46, is accused of placing his hand on the agitated woman’s throat as an ambulance transported her to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital for a mental health detention. Barba further revealed that a police officer was fired for allegedly covering up the incident, recorded on a police body camera.

The Bill Workman Award is a stipend given to the winner of the year’s news category. “The award honors Bill’s devotion to journalism and to the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club, which he served with his wife, Marla Lowenthal, who has established this award,” according to the San Francisco Press Club website. Workman, a former John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford, covered seminal news stories such as the 1974 Patty Hearst kidnapping.

The Examiner staff was also honored in several other categories. Staff writer Joshua Sabatini won three awards for the following stories: “Square CEO Jack Dorsey’s tax fight goes beyond Prop. C” and “Haight residents are complaining about dogs dominating sidewalks” and “Those impacted by the War on Drugs still wait for cannabis permits in SF. Also honored were Gaiser, Hume and designers Ming Vong, and Montse Reyes for a page one design featuring Sabatini’s story headlined “Who Let the Dogs Out?” Gaiser, Vong and Reyes were also recognized for the page one design of “What We Lost” illustrating a story about the year after Mayor Ed Lee’s death. SF Weekly won a second place award for its cover design of “The Wisdom of Tokimonsta” issue, designed by Eric Pratt.

“I am extremely proud of the journalists at both our publications,” said Deborah Petersen, editor-in-chief of the San Francisco Media Company. The work, she said, represents the breath and depth of the excellent journalism provided to readers through watch-dog reporting, compelling visuals, sports coverage, commentary and page design. “These awards are well deserved,” she said.

The awards were presented at a ceremony in Burlingame earlier this month.

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