At a ceremony held in Long Beach on Saturday, California’s publishers recognized both SF Weekly and the San Francisco Examiner for their photography, writing and reporting, including SF Weekly’s coverage of the Camp Fire, and the Examiner’s investigative work on Muni.
The California News Publishers Association awarded first place in digital writing to SF Weekly’s story “The Biggest Loss in Paradise: Its Elders.” Written by News Editor Nuala Sawyer with photography by San Francisco Examiner Photo Editor Kevin Hume, it poignantly told the story of how the November 2018 Camp Fire, which essentially destroyed the town of Paradise, disproportionately affected the community’s older population. It was edited by SF Weekly Editor-in-Chief Peter Lawrence Kane, who was also named in the award, along with San Francisco Media Co. Editor-in-Chief Deborah Petersen. The story was also published in the Examiner.
The judges called the story “a unique way to report on a fire that surely had a ton of press.” It made readers think about people who normally would not have their story told,” they added.
“This story is an example of how journalists eloquently take on the demanding work of documenting loss with hopes of finding solutions to prevent it from repeating in the future,” Petersen said of the story, which was also published in the Examiner.
“It is an honor — yet no surprise — that SF Weekly would rank No. 1 among such strong journalistic company,” she added. “I am proud of all our finalists.”
The contest drew more than 3,000 entries from dailies, weeklies, and campus news organizations throughout California.
In photography, the Examiner garnered three awards in the digital news photography category: second, third and fourth place. The photos by Hume included that of a surfer at play in the unusually high surf at the Golden Gate Bridge in December, another of a community activist wiping away tears as London Breed, San Francisco’s first African American American female mayor, declared victory in June, and a photo of Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, high-fiving fans during the team’s June victory parade.
The CNPA honored the investigative work of Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez in uncovering a series of sexual harassment allegations at the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency in late October 2018. The accused, John Haley, director of transit for Muni, resigned a month later. The series of stories, including “Sexual harassment suit alleges head of SF Muni operations inappropriately touched assistant” were recognized. The editor on these stories, Managing Editor Sara Gaiser, and Petersen were also recognized in the award.
“Joe’s strong reporting work reflects the essence of investigative reporting – its purpose is to create positive change,” Petersen said.
Other finalists included SF Weekly staff writer Ida Mojadad for her enterprise news story in the digital weeklies category “Mayor Edward Lee was an Organ Donor. Are You?”, edited by Sawyer and Kane. Kane’s July 2018 story “The Horrors of the Recession to Come” was also a finalist in the feature writing category.