Check Out This Year’s Excellence In Journalism Award Winners


SAN FRANCISCO—The Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California Chapter, has named Bay Citizen reporter Aaron Glantz as Journalist of the Year for his hard-hitting coverage exposing the negligent care given to California military veterans in need of urgent health services.

Glantz’s work includes an investigation into the suicide of Iraq war veteran William Hamilton, who stepped in front of a train after being turned away from the Palo Alto V.A.’s psychiatric ward. The tragic event, and other major incidents of mistreatment that Glantz uncovered, helped trigger federal government reforms designed to ensure proper and timely care for veterans.

“Northern California journalists produced a range of great stories this year, from dogged investigations into the ways government agencies have failed some of our most vulnerable citizens to feature pieces illuminating historically under-reported pockets of local culture,” said E.B. Boyd, SPJ NorCal chapter president. “We are also excited about the innovative approaches they used to explain complex topics and tell compelling human interest stories. We are honored to celebrate their work.”

Veteran reporter, Edward R. Murrow Award recipient, and six-time Northern California Emmy Award winner Lloyd LaCuesta receives the SPJ-NorCal Board of Directors’ Distinguished Service to Journalism Award. LaCuesta retired this year from his position as South Bay bureau chief for KTVU Channel 2 News after 35 years of reporting for the station. SPJ honors LaCuesta not only for his multiple award-winning breaking news coverage over the years, but also for his pioneering role in helping to bring more minorities into the field of journalism during his career. LaCuesta was one of the first national presidents of the Asian American Journalists Association. He was also one of the founders, and the first national president, of UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc.

The SPJ-NorCal board also honors the career achievements of two journalists: Carla Marinucci, senior political writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, for her work in print, and former KPIX-TV reporter Hank Plante for his work in broadcast.

Described as “a shark who sinks her teeth into a political story and doesn’t let go,” Marinucci’s reporting has consistently stood above the pack of state political journalists. Her relentless pursuit of stories has led to numerous muckraking reports on political figures, keen analysis of issues, and even coining new terms – such as “waitress moms”- that are picked up by other news outlets.

Hank Plante, one of the first openly gay TV reporters, is best known for his work as KPIX-TV’s former political correspondent.

Plante’s reporting on the early days of the AIDS epidemic – when detailed information about the disease was scarce and fears about its spread were rampant – was key to KPIX winning a George Foster Peabody Award. Plante left KPIX in 2010 and is currently living and writing newspaper columns in Palm Springs.

Jennifer Gollan of The Bay Citizen receives the Public Service Award for her work exposing the shoddy oversight by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, which allowed 130 vocational schools to operate with expired licenses and failed to investigate complaints about unscrupulous business practices. Gollan’s reporting helped prompt the agency’s reform.

Mother Jones’ reporter Andy Kroll is named Outstanding Emerging Journalist for delivering strong, rich and sophisticated articles.

Chris Hoff and Seth Samuel, audio engineers for KALW-FM , received the Unsung Hero Award for their behind-the-scenes coaching of radio reporters and their deft production of the sound elements that comprise the news show “Crosscurrents.”

Two Community Journalism awards were given this year. One went to Vivian Po, Rhashad Pittman, Jennifer Ward, Ricardo Ibarra, Jane Xiao, Eliana Cespedes and Richard Lee for a multilingual series produced by New America Media that investigates the state’s education crisis.

Rose Aguilar, Malihe Razzazan, Ali Budner, Holly Kernan and Matt Martin won the second Community Journalism Award for “Your Call,” KALW’S daily public affairs program. Judges cited the show for its “stimulating, solution-driven conversations about some of the most critical issues we face at home and abroad.”

Liz Enochs, immediate past president of SPJ-NorCal and managing editor of GreenBiz Group, is honored with the board’s John Gothberg/Meritorious Service to SPJ Award for her tireless and dedicated leadership, which culminated in the national SPJ organization naming NorCal the 2012 National Large Chapter of the Year. The NorCal chapter also won two Circle of Excellence Awards, one for chapter communications and the other for diversity.

The 2012 winners will be honored at SPJ-NorCal’s 27th annual awards dinner on November 13, 2012 at the City Club in San Francisco.


JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR: Aaron Glantz, The Bay Citizen


CAREER ACHIEVEMENT: Carla Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle, and Hank Plante, KPIX-TV

UNSUNG HERO: Chris Hoff and Seth Samuel, KALW-FM

PUBLIC SERVICE: Jennifer Gollan,The Bay Citizen

JOHN GOTHBERG/MERITORIOUS SERVICE TO SPJ: Liz Enochs, Immediate Past President, SPJ-NorCal

ARTS & CULTURE (print/text daily): David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle for “Television Drags its Feet on Diversity,” a critique of how television fails to represent America’s growing transformation into a prominently diverse society.

ARTS & CULTURE (print/text non-daily): Rachel Swan of East Bay Express for an outstanding series of critical essays that demonstrate an exceptional alertness to cultural nuances, gender roles, and social and cultural power dynamics.

ARTS & CULTURE (radio/audio daily): Rachael Myrow and Polly Stryker of KQED-FM for an illuminating series that give listeners unique insight into local cultural scenes through food.

ARTS & CULTURE (radio/audio non-daily): Julie Caine, Marie Abe, Loretta Williams and Robin Wise for “Squeezebox Stories,” a KALW-FM documentary about the social history of the accordion.

ARTS & CULTURE (TV/video daily): Dai Sugano of the San Jose Mercury News for his skillful use of slow motion, multiple angles and editing to capture the fluidity of a classical Indian dance in “Bharatanatyam in Motion.”

BREAKING NEWS (multimedia): Oakland Tribune staff for its use of writing, video and photography to effectively capture the scope of activity on the streets during Occupy Oakland.

BREAKING NEWS (print/text daily): San Jose Mercury News staff for its comprehensive and compelling coverage of the Cupertino quarry shooting.

BREAKING NEWS (TV/video): KTVU news staff for its thorough coverage of Occupy Oakland, and the ability to deliver steady footage during public disbandment by police.

COMMENTARY (print/text non-daily): Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery of Mother Jones for their sophisticated and skillful analysis of the claims about job creation and deficit reduction in their “Editors’ Notes.”

COMMUNITY JOURNALISM (print/text): Vivian Po, Rhashad Pittman, Jennifer Ward, Ricardo Ibarra, Jane Xiao, Eliana Cespedes, Richard Lee, Louis Freedberg and Sue Frey, for “A Day in the Life of a Classroom,” a multilingual series produced by New America Media that investigates the state’s education crisis.

COMMUNITY JOURNALISM (radio/audio): Rose Aguilar, Malihe Razzazan, Ali Budner, Holly Kernan and Matt Martin for KALW’s “Your Call,” a public affairs program that offers stimulating, solution-driven conversations about critical issues.

OUTSTANDING EMERGING JOURNALIST: Andy Kroll of Mother Jones, for delivering strong, rich and sophisticated articles.

EXPLANATORY JOURNALISM (multimedia-daily): KQED’s Dan Brekke, Lauren Sommer, Craig Miller, Molly Samuel, Lisa Pickoff-White for their series “Water and Power,” which explores the relationship between water and power, and the policies required to manage both.

EXPLANATORY (multimedia-non daily): Carrie Ching, Arthur Jones, G.W. Schulz, and Andrew Becker of the Center for Investigative Reporting’s “Suspect America,” which investigates a Department of Homeland Security program that gathers intelligence on U.S. citizens regardless of whether they have committed a crime.

EXPLANATORY JOURNALISM (print/text daily): Lisa M. Krieger of the San Jose Mercury News for her series on the “Cost of Dying,” which includes reporting on the death of her own father, whose final ten days resulted in more than $300,000 in medical bills.

EXPLANATORY JOURNALISM (print/text non-daily): Vince Beiser for Wired magazine’s “Massive Biometric Project Gives Millions of Indians an ID,” which delves into India’s dubious efforts to create a national database of all of its citizens.

EXPLANATORY JOURNALISM (radio/audio daily): Erica Mu for the KALW-FM piece “Asian American Mental Health: Inside Out,” which takes a thoughtful look at mental illness and the struggles toward recovery among Asian Americans.

EXPLANATORY JOURNALISM (radio/audio non-daily): Reese Erlich of Making Contact/National Radio Project for “Inside the Syrian Uprising,” a piece that provides an intimate look at what’s happening on the ground, and the fractious divides among the Syrian people.

EXPLANATORY JOURNALISM (TV/video daily): Stephen Stock, Liza Meak and Mark Villarreal of NBC Bay Area for “Uncovering Fracking inCalifornia,” which exposes how oil companies are fracking hundreds of wells in California while state regulators do nothing about it.

EXPLANATORY JOURNALISM (TV/video non-daily): Christopher Bauer, Josh Cassidy, Paul Rogers and Amy Miller for a KQED-TV “QUEST” segment exploring the potential of wind energy in “Airborne Wind Energy.”

FEATURE STORYTELLING (multimedia non-daily): Carrie Ching and Ryan Gabrielson for Center for Investigative Reporting’s “Manner of Death: Undetermined,” which exposes the failure of law enforcement to protect the state’s severely, developmentally disabled residents.

FEATURE STORYTELLING (print/text daily): Scott C. Johnson of the Oakland Tribune for “Three Dead Boys, No Real Answers,” which brings into focus the violence afflicting Oakland through the murders of three children under 6 years old.

FEATURE STORYTELLING (print/text non-daily): Mac McClelland of Mother Jones for going undercover and writing about the exploitative working conditions of warehouse packers filling Internet retail orders in “I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave.”

FEATURE STORYTELLING (radio/audio daily): Holly Quan of KCBS for “Lost Boys,” a series that looks at issues surrounding youth who commit acts of crime and violence.

FEATURE STORYTELLING (radio/audio non-daily): Andrew Stelzer, Daniel Gordon, and Kyung Jin Lee of Making Contact/National Radio Project for examining whether gang injunctions serve their intended purpose in “Gang Injunctions: Problem or Solution?”

FEATURE STORYTELLING (TV/video daily): Dai Sugano of San Jose Mercury News for “Lost Voices of September 11,” which interviews 10 years later the friends and family who left messages on the cell phone of United Airlines Flight 93 passenger Mark Bingham, hoping to hear he was alive.

FEATURE STORYTELLING (TV/video non-daily): Gabriela Quirós for KQED-TV’s “QUEST” segment “Millie Hughes-Fulford: Scientist in Space,” which explores the potential human benefit derived from research conducted by the first woman to travel into space as a working scientist.

INVESTIGATIVE (multimedia daily): Michael Montgomery, KQED & Center for Investigative Reporting; Staff: KQED-FM, KQED Interactive, KQED-TV, and the Center for Investigative Reporting; for KQED’s series “Republic of Cannabis,” which takes an in-depth look into California’s marijuana industry and illustrates why the public should care even if people have no involvement with marijuana use, growing, or sales.

INVESTIGATIVE (radio/audio daily): Doug Sovern for KCBS’ “Children Left Behind,” a report that humanizes the challenges and complexities of children in foster care.

INVESTIGATIVE (print/text non-daily): Trevor Aaronson for Mother Jones’ “The Informants,” which shows the FBI using informants to lure Muslims into criminal acts, and in many cases, never charges the defendants with terrorism-related crimes.

INVESTIGATIVE (TV/video daily): Tara Moriarty, Leslie Donaldson, Tony Hodrick and Dina Munsch of KTVU-TV for “Snitch Tickets,” which reveals a controversial traffic department practice of duping drivers into turning themselves in.

INVESTIGATIVE (TV/video non-daily): Jenna Susko, Julie Putnam and Mark Villarreal of NBC Bay Area for “Fuzzy Math: Guessing Pensions,” which shows how San Jose city leaders used a dubious pension projection number to pressure union members into concessions.

JOURNALISM INNOVATION: San Jose State University photography professor Kim Komenich and Professor Kim Grinfeder’s University of MiamiSpring 2012 interactive storytelling class for their “living documentary” project. The project took the subjects of Komenich’s Pulitzer-winning coverage of the 1986 Philippine “People Power” revolution and used innovative social media techniques to tell where they are now.

PHOTOJOURNALISM (newspapers): Bay Area News Group staff for their fair and balanced depiction of Occupy Oakland for the Oakland Tribune.

PHOTOJOURNALISM (magazine): Dai Sugano of San Jose Mercury News for “China Unbound – Capitalism Meets Communism.”

PHOTOJOURNALISM (audio slideshow): Karl Mondon of Oakland Tribune for “Oakland’s Innocent Blood,” a chilling chronicle of violence in the city.

PHOTOJOURNALISM (newspaper-single image/portfolio): Lea Suzuki of the San Francisco Chronicle for “Jobs’ Farewell,” which captures a prophetic moment of Steve Jobs after speaking at the Worldwide Developers Conference.

STUDENT PROJECT: Victoria Mauleón of KQED, Sandy Tolan’s advanced radio documentary class at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and Marc Cooper of USC’s Annenberg Digital News, for the KQED piece “20something,” which takes listeners on an intimate and inspirational journey through the lives of young people.





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