This week I'm proud to announce that our editorial team has been recognized by our peers across the state with seven awards in the California News Publishers Association's 2022 California Journalism Awards program.
The awards honor outstanding work by our journalists and page designers last year to bring you engaging, informative and contextual Tri-Valley news coverage in the Pleasanton Weekly print edition and online across PleasantonWeekly.com, LivermoreVine.com and DanvilleSanRamon.com.
In all, we received two first-place awards, three second-place awards and two third-place honors. (The CNPA contest spotlighted the top three finishers in various categories across print and digital divisions, with publications grouped based on circulation/unique visitor counts.)
One of my favorite stories all year was our July 22, 2022 cover story "Hiking from Fremont to Livermore" written by our colleague Kate Bradshaw, who took the freelance assignment while on a brief hiatus from Embarcadero Media. Her personal account of a three-day hike with her sister through the Ohlone Regional Wilderness earned first place for Feature Story (Print).
As one CNPA judge gushed, "Kate Bradshaw's first-person hiking writing is deliciously fresh and funny. The expert guide at the end is welcomed and thorough. The idea itself is a home-run as we expanded our COVID cocoons. Thanks, Kate for the fun read and photos."
Livermore Vine editor Cierra Bailey won our team's other first-place prize for Arts & Entertainment Coverage (Digital) for her story "Teen brings drag show culture to Tri-Valley" in the Weekly in January 2022. One judge lauded Bailey's article as a "great way to localize and put a human face on a story that has grabbed national headlines."
We're certainly not afraid of covering controversial topics.
In fact, two articles we caught flak for from certain circles in the community also caught the eyes of certain CNPA judges -- to the tune of second-place awards.
"What's going on at Senior Support?", our Aug. 12, 2022 cover story and one of the first articles reporter Nicole Gonzales wrote for us after being hired out of college, was honored in Investigative Reporting (Print). "A carefully documented report about what has happened to a vital community service. Solid work," the judge wrote.
And in the Editorial Comment (Print) category you'll find the runner-up honor for our editorial board's piece criticizing the Pleasanton City Council majority's election districting process, "District map reeks of gerrymandering" with publisher Gina Channell Wilcox as lead author. "This was explanatory journalism that is so important in communities that rely on us for answers. Loved it," the judge stated.
I also took an award for Editorial Comment, third place for the article I authored after we learned local cities' term limit laws were in fact not absolute: "When term limits aren't really term limits". Per one judge, "The piece highlighted how government can be far more complex than people realize. It was especially good because the authors held themselves to account as well."
Our editorial board is grateful to stand out and earn two of the three awards handed out in what was a very competitive Editorial Comment category in 2022, according to the judges: "Stiff competition here. Even some of the pieces that didn't finish in the money were very close. Terrific work by all."
As someone who works closely with our page designers, often under-appreciated members of our team led by design and production manager Kristin Brown but so valuable to our publications, I'm elated that CNPA honored designer Doug Young with a second-place award for Inside Design & Layout.
The category was a paired submission, specifically for Young's print layouts for our April 15, 2022 cover story on Mayor Karla Brown's State of the City and the May 13, 2022 cover story "A lasting impact" about Pleasanton's sister city Tulancingo, Mexico unveiling a statue in honor of late Pleasanton educator and community leader Bob Athenour, including a wealth of great photos by our freelancer Chuck Deckert.
Our final recognition was third place in Coverage of 2022 Elections (Digital) for our series on the Livermore municipal elections, spearheaded by Bailey with support from Channell Wilcox and Gonzales.
The package included our regular news coverage, reporting on the mayoral and council candidate forums we moderated, an analysis of campaign finance documents, our editorial board's endorsement article and Channell Wilcox's in-depth column exposing "The group of many names" lording over Livermore city politics.
What a haul for us this month. Then again, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out the CNPA award season can be one of mixed emotions. We had so many other stellar articles by those authors, plus reporters Jeanita Lyman and Christian Trujano, our freelancers and our interns.
I just have to remind my team (and myself) that the contest is incredibly competitive and features the best of the best in journalism in all of California. I guess we'll just have to look at coming up with more stories tailored specifically to the CNPA category criteria, wink.
Here's to more journalism success for us in print and online for the rest of 2023 and beyond.
Editor's note: Jeremy Walsh is the editorial director for the Embarcadero Media East Bay Division. His "What a Week" column is a recurring feature in the Pleasanton Weekly.