Press Democrat Wins 25 Awards in California Journalism Awards

The Press Democrat was honored Tuesday with six first-place awards from the California News Publishers Association, which praised the newspaper for its coverage of disasters, homelessness, business and education.

Overall, the newspaper received 25 awards in 23 categories in the annual CNPA California Journalism Awards. In most categories, the entries were judged against work produced by daily newspapers in California with 15,000 to 50,000  subscribers. In 10 of the categories including photojournalism, public service, digital journalism, page design, sports game story and special sections it was matched against the largest newspapers in the state.

“These awards are a reflection of the skill and effort that is devoted to our news report every day in every corner of the newsroom. Although our staff is now producing our print and digital news report from their homes as we cover the virus threatening our community, we remain united to deliver essential news,” said Catherine Barnett, executive editor of The Press Democrat.

The awards recognized journalism published in 2019. First-place awards include:

Breaking News Coverage, for staff coverage of the Kincade fire. “This entry is a great example of how bold and dynamic the printed newspaper can be, especially during coverage of a huge news event in the region. I was impressed not only with the depth of coverage, but also the quality of reporting and writing, the exceptional photos and the great play they were given, and the clean design. Each day over the five days the readers were given coverage not only of the fire, but also how the fire was affecting their daily lives,” the judge wrote.

Local Government Coverage, for staff coverage of homeless camps along the Joe Rodota Trail and efforts by local government to respond to the problem.

Business Coverage, for a series of stories by Bill Swindell on insurance issues impacting people rebuilding from the 2017 wildfires.

Youth and Education Coverage, for a story by former staff writer Susan Minichiello on racial and academic divisions in Healdsburg schools. “Clearly well-researched. The story flowed well and thoughtfully tackled the charged topic of racial disparities between charter and public schools,” the judge wrote.

Photo Story/Essay, for photography by Press Democrat staff documenting efforts to defend Windsor from the Kincade fire.

Artistic Photo, for an image by Kent Porter capturing a meteor streaking across the sky as a burning oak tree sent orange sparks into the wind.

The newspaper received six second-place awards:

Breaking News Coverage, for staff coverage of the 2019 floods. “This was another solid example of how the printed newspaper can rise to the magnitude of a big, local story. The depth and quantity of coverage was warranted by the seriousness of the news. Another great use of exceptional photos,” the judge wrote.

Photojournalism, for staff coverage of the 2019 floods and the Kincade fire.

Front Page Layout and Design, for three front pages produced in January, February and October.

Sports Action Photo, for an image by Chris Chung of an Oakland Raiders’ running back leaping into the air for a touchdown.

Sports Feature Photo, for an image by Porter of two softball players giving a treat to a dog, the team’s mascot.

Home Page Layout and Design, for

The newspaper received four third-place awards:

General Excellence, for two complete and consecutive editions of the newspaper in September.

Public Service, for staff coverage of homeless camps on the Joe Rodota Trail. “Compelling, in-depth coverage of one community wrestling with a problem that is both chronic and worsening,” the judge wrote.

Inside Page Layout, for three poster pages created by staff designer Elissa Torres to celebrate the Warriors’ last season at Oracle Arena.

News Photo, for a photo by Porter showing a firefighter battling flames in the Kincade fire.

The newspaper received seven fourth-place awards. They include: Column Writing, for two columns by sports columnist Kerry Benefield; Sports Game Story, for a Benefield story on Cardinal Newman’s football championship; Sports Feature, for a story by sports columnist Phil Barber advancing the Raiders’ final game in Oakland; Online Coverage of Youth and Education, for a Minichiello story on school security in the wake of a mass shooting at a Florida high school; Feature Photo, for a Beth Schlanker photo of a Christmas tree lot in the rain; Photo Illustration, for a stylized image of a cape buffalo made by John Burgess; and Special Section, for the “Year in Photos” magazine.

The newspaper received fifth-place awards in two categories: In-Depth Reporting, for coverage of the rebuilding underway after the 2017 wildfires; and Business Coverage, for a Julie Johnson story on cannabis tourism.

Two other publications owned by Sonoma Media Investments, the Press Democrat’s parent company, also were recognized.

The Sonoma Index-Tribune took first place for Enterprise Story, Coverage of Youth and Education, Column Writing, Editorial Comment and Artistic Photo. It was a top five finalist for 17 awards, including second place for General Excellence for

The Petaluma Argus-Courier won first place for Photo Story/Essay and Editorial Cartoon. It was a top five finalist for 13 awards.