CONTACT: Ben Trefny (415) 290-2421 or Lila LaHood (415) 846-5346

SAN FRANCISCO — The Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California Chapter, honors Joe Eskenazi of Mission Local as Journalist of the Year for the 34th Annual Excellence in Journalism Awards.

The chapter honors Eskenazi for tireless, intrepid, deeply sourced coverage of local news in San Francisco. In his nearly two decades on the local news beat in the Bay Area, including in his current role as managing editor at Mission Local, Eskenazi has developed a keen ability to cut through political party lines and deconstruct spin to present a unique take on pressing local issues. His powerful voice is made possible due to his dogged reporting, frequent and deft use of public records that other reporters often don’t even think to look for, and compassionate yet pointed writing style aimed squarely at holding public figures to account. San Franciscans who encounter his work walk away with a deeper, more nuanced sense of how their city works.

The SPJ NorCal board honors Jo Anne Wallace with the Career Achievement Award. Wallace, who recently retired from KQED as Vice President and General Manager, was one of the first female station managers in public radio. She was integral in the development of NPR’s “Weekend Edition” and played a key role in bringing shows like “Fresh Air” and “Car Talk” to national audiences. At KQED, she expanded locally produced news, including expanding “Forum” and creating “The California Report.” Her contributions helped make KQED one of the most-listened-to public radio news and public affairs services in the nation.

Sally Lehrman and Venise Wagner receive the SPJ NorCal Board of Directors’ Distinguished Service to Journalism Award for their dedication to diversity in journalism. This year, they co-authored “Reporting Inequality: Tools and Methods for Covering Race and Ethnicity,” which was published by Routledge. Wagner is a professor of journalism at San Francisco State University. Lehrman founded and leads the Trust Project, a global network of newsrooms fighting misinformation by following rigorous transparency practices.

Shereen Adel of KALW receives the Unsung Hero Award. As KALW news department content manager — copy editor, show script writer, radio story to digital print article converter, audio consultant, and traffic cop — Adel touches every story and every person coming through the news department. The organization has been transformed organizationally and in its digital production since she took the position in July 2018. Quality control, audience reach, and ambition of projects have all risen significantly because of her work ethic, attention to detail, and concern about producing good journalism, and she does it all with an extraordinarily supportive and positive attitude.

The Silver Heart Award goes to Aura Bogado of Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. In her ongoing coverage of the family separation crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, Bogado has exemplified the spirit behind this award for reporting that shows extraordinary dedication to amplifying unheard voices and sharing stories from marginalized communities. In her exposure of the federal government’s use of secret shelters to hold unaccompanied migrant children, coverage highlighting shifts in federal policy regarding the treatment of migrants, and investigations into the lucrative operations of private contractors operating migrant shelters, she has centered the voices of migrants themselves and showed in stark detail the human costs of these policies.

Aaron Field, Matt Drange and Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez are honored with the board’s John Gothberg/Meritorious Service to SPJ Award. When freelance journalist Bryan Carmody’s home and office were raided by police in search of his source for details on the death of former public defender Jeff Adachi, Rodriguez, Drange and Field jumped into action. They helped connect Carmody to lawyers who defend press freedom, pointed him to other resources to help him protect his rights, and publicized the raid and the dangers it presented to a free press, including through a public interview with national SPJ president Alex Tarquinio.

The 2019 winners will be honored at SPJ NorCal’s 34th Excellence in Journalism Awards Dinner on Thursday, Nov. 14, at Delancey Street Restaurant in San Francisco. For details and to purchase tickets, please see https://spjnorcal2019eij.eventbrite.com

2019 Award Winners

Board Awards

JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR: Joe Eskenazi, Mission Local


DISTINGUISHED SERVICE TO JOURNALISM: Sally Lehrman, Trust Project, and Venise Wagner, San Francisco State University


SILVER HEART: Aura Bogado, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting

JOHN GOTHBERG/MERITORIOUS SERVICE TO SPJ: Aaron Field, Matt Drange and Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, SPJ NorCal’s FOI Committee

Contest Awards

ARTS & CULTURE (print/online large division):  Sam Lefebvre, of KQED, for his detailed reporting on a lawsuit alleging discrimination against a North Beach nightclub by the SFPD.

ARTS & CULTURE (print/online small division): Alyssa Pereira and Clara Rice, of Good Beer Hunting, for “A Story of Resilience — Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, California.”

ARTS & CULTURE (radio/audio): Chloe Veltman, Victoria Mauleon and Ceil Muller, of KQED, for “Ballet Star Moves Past Pain for a New Stage: Science.”

ARTS & CULTURE (TV/video): The team from “Untold America” from AJ+ for “How Do Deaf People Experience Music?

BEST SCOOP (all media): Dan Morain, of CalMatters, for “A Capitol Crime: How a 16-year-old murder reached California’s highest office.”

BREAKING NEWS (print/online): The staff of the Redding Record Searchlight for their comprehensive coverage of the Carr Fire in Redding, completed under extreme conditions and fast deadlines, and incorporating solid service journalism and detailed resources for residents.

BREAKING NEWS (radio/audio): Jeremy Siegel, Brian Watt and Ted Goldberg, of KQED, for their coverage of the Camp Fire in Butte County, which demonstrated cohesive reporting produced under dire and fast-changing circumstances.

COMMENTARY/ANALYSIS: Daniel Borenstein, of the Bay Area News Group, for his columns on the mishandling of complaints of sexually inappropriate comments by a county assessor, on the Alameda County Supervisors’ attempt to sell half of the Oakland Coliseum directly to the Oakland A’s, and on malfeasance committed by two city council members concerning the hiring of a new fire chief.

COMMUNITY JOURNALISM (print/online): The staff of Berkeleyside for their range of community coverage, including stories about a councilman who threatened the cop who pulled him over, the poor condition of roads, controversial sidewalk rules, a local family’s plan to build a cannabis nursery, and a police department staffing crisis.

COMMUNITY JOURNALISM (TV/video): Candice Nguyen, Tony Hodrick and Chandler Landon, of KTVU, for “Small City, Big Problems,” an in-depth series of stories on misconduct and abuses of power within the Vallejo Police Department.

DATA VISUALIZATION (all media): John Osborn D’Agostino, of CalMatters, for “Gimme Props,” which turned a dozen California propositions into an online and mobile game in which readers swipe left or right to figure out how to vote based on their own opinions.

DESIGN (web/mobile): Jesse Garnier, of SF Bay Media Associates, for the clear, concise web and mobile design of SFBay.ca offering easy access to local news and information.

EXPLANATORY JOURNALISM (print/online large division): Liza Gross, for Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting and the Food and Environment Reporting Network, for “Scientists warned this weed killer would destroy crops. EPA approved it anyway.”

EXPLANATORY JOURNALISM (print/online small division): B. Alexandra Szerlip, for The Believer, for “Vintage Tech: Tyrian Purple,” about the origins of the color’s creation 3,000 years ago from Mediterranean snail mucus, and how production continues today in Oaxaca, Mexico.

EXPLANATORY JOURNALISM (radio/audio): Lucy Kang, Brian Edwards-Tiekert, Cat Brooks and Aileen Alfandary, of KPFA, for “Community of Grace,” about the personal stories of and challenges faced by a community of homeless people in Oakland.

EXPLANATORY JOURNALISM (TV/video): Brooks Jarosz, Lisa Fernandez and Chandler Landon, of KTVU, for “Police blocking release of personnel files,” about how police departments were complying with — or fighting — new California transparency laws.

FEATURES JOURNALISM (print/online large division): Julia Prodis Sulek, of the Bay Area News Group, for “Drama on little Lorraine Avenue after Google came to town.”

FEATURES JOURNALISM (print/online small division): Dan Morain, of CalMatters, for “A Capitol Crime: How a 16-year-old murder reached California’s highest offices.”

FEATURES JOURNALISM (radio/audio): Magnolia McKay and Gabe Grabin, of KALW, for “What to do when your favorite song has toxic lyrics? Play it on repeat,” about how popular songs about love can also be unconscious endorsements of toxic abuse and violence against women.

FEATURES JOURNALISM (TV/video): The team from “Untold America” at AJ+ for “My Big Fat Indian Wedding (In America),” about the tensions that sometimes emerge around the subject of marriage between first-generation Indian-Americans and their families.

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING (print/online large division): Jennifer Gollan, of Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, for “Caregivers and Takers,” about how caregivers at many highly profitable facilities in California and elsewhere being forced to work around the clock, six days a week for as little as $2 an hour. The investigation has spurred lawmakers and regulators to look more closely into the operation of board-and-care homes.

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING (print/online small division): Jennifer Wadsworth, of Metro Silicon Valley, for reporting on surveillance of jail calls between inmates and their lawyers, and how those practices intersect with efforts to apply local privacy policies.

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING (radio/audio): Molly Peterson, Kat Snow and Teodros Hailye, of KQED, for “The Danger of Heat,” about how extreme weather in the Bay Area affects residents, including dockworkers and the elderly, examining how climate change, labor insecurity, housing, safety, and health disparities intersect to create killer heatwaves.

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING (TV/video): Candice Nguyen, Lisa Fernandez, Tony Hodrick, Chandler Landon of KTVU, for their jail gender discrimination investigation about the treatment of incarcerated women.

LONGFORM STORYTELLING (print/online large division): Katia Savchuk, of Mother Jones, for “Frozen Assets,” about Alaska’s universal basic income program, examining why this program has been effective and why, despite its popularity, its existence is imperiled.

LONGFORM STORYTELLING (print/online small division): Natalie Orenstein, of Berkeleyside, for “Beyond the Buses, a three-part series on the 50-year legacy of Berkeley’s landmark school integration program.

LONGFORM STORYTELLING (radio/audio): April Dembosky, Victoria Mauleon and Sasha Khokha, of KQED, for “The Perfect Mom,” about postpartum psychosis.

LONGFORM STORYTELLING (TV/video): Vicky Nguyen, Michael Bott, Jeremy Carroll, Mark Villarreal and Michael Horn, of NBC Bay Area, for “Not Words But Deeds: Sex Abuse Victims Silenced,” a series in which they uncovered and chronicled the silencing of sex abuse allegations at Presentation High School in San Jose.

ONGOING COVERAGE (print/online large division): Josh Eidelson and Mark Bergen, of Bloomberg, for their coverage of the plight of tech contract workers, including the low pay and second-class status of many thousands of contract workers at Google, Uber, Microsoft and other behemoth tech firms.

ONGOING COVERAGE (print/online small division): Felicia Mello, of CalMatters, for “The Cost of College,” a series that takes a wide-ranging look at the high cost of higher education at the state’s public, private, for-profit and community colleges, examining the complex history of how recession, budget cuts, the housing shortage, and other factors created the current crisis.

ONGOING COVERAGE (radio/audio): Lee Romney, Lisa Morehouse, Tarek Fouda and James Rowlands, of KALW, for their series “Learning while black: The fight for equity in San Francisco schools,” tracing the history of racial bias in San Francisco schools and how African American children were funneled into the special education system based on flawed IQ tests and white standards, and exploring current efforts to improve equity in education.

OUTSTANDING EMERGING JOURNALIST (all media): Marissa Ortega-Welch, of KALW, for her work as a science reporter and editor, including stories about battling the invasive insects that attack California fruit trees, super bloom mania, and how butterflies other than monarchs need some attention.

PHOTOJOURNALISM (breaking news – individual): Karl Mondon, of the Bay Area News Group, for a photo of a man paddling through the miniature golf course after flooding in Guerneville, described in “Russian River flooding swamps two dozen towns.”

PHOTOJOURNALISM (breaking news — team): The staff of the Bay Area News Group, for “Losing Paradise, a visual essay of the Camp Fire.”

PHOTOJOURNALISM (photo essay): Dai Sugano, of the Bay Area News Group, for “Last Refuge,” about a group of RV dwellers who organize to defend their right to maintain their community.

PHOTOJOURNALISM (single image): Dai Sugano, of Bay Area News Group, for his portrait of a father whose son died in a car accident, described in the story “Death of Westmont High School baseball star devastates a community.”

PODCAST: Hana Baba and Leila Day, of KALW, for “The Stoop” podcast episode “Gullah Geechee,” that combines narrative memoir, storytelling, interviews, historical audio recordings and ambient sound to explain how the Gullah-Geechee language was developed by enslaved African Americans in the American Southeast’s low country and nearby islands.

PUBLIC SERVICE (all media): Jennifer Gollan, of Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, for “Caregivers and Takers,” about how caregivers at many highly profitable facilities in California and elsewhere being forced to work around the clock, six days a week for as little as $2 an hour. The investigation has spurred lawmakers and regulators to look more closely into the operation of board-and-care homes.

SCIENCE, ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH REPORTING (print/online): Jocelyn Wiener, of CalMatters, for “Breakdown: Mental Health,” about California’s mental health system, the inadequate mental health treatment provided to people in prisons and in board-and-care homes, and for those in treatment for psychosis and other mental illnesses.

SCIENCE, ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH REPORTING (radio/audio): Lauren Sommer, Danielle Venton, Molly Peterson and Kat Snow, of KQED, for “Living With Wildfire: California Reimagined,” a series including segments about the increase in wildfires across California due to climate change and drought, examining what the state, communities and neighborhoods and residents can do to prepare for this new reality.

SCIENCE, ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH REPORTING (TV/video): The staff of Deep Look, KQED’s web science series, for bringing tiny slices of nature into view with the up close examination of blue orchard bees, Jerusalem crickets, face mites, head lice, and nudibranch sea slugs.

SPORTS REPORTING: The staff at KALW for “Bounce: The Warriors last season in Oakland,” an examination of the team’s impact on the East Bay community, documenting the 2018-2019 season under the shadow of an impending move from Oakland to San Francisco. (Episodes 1, 4, 5, 9 and 10)

STUDENT SPECIAL PROJECT (all media): Alex Nieves and Anne Wernikoff, of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, for “Second Class,” a multimedia project exploring the lives of California’s more than 2 million undocumented workers.

TECHNOLOGY REPORTING (print/online): Olivia Solon and Cyrus Farivar, of the NBC News Tech Investigations team, for their coverage of Silicon Valley, including reporting on

privacy, facial recognition, the many ways user data is leveraged, startups vs. tech giants, and the gig economy, where tips meant for employees sometimes went to the company.

TECHNOLOGY REPORTING (radio/audio): Rachael Myrow, of KQED, for a four-part series about how difficult it is to prevent, monitor and remove hate-speech from the Internet.

TECHNOLOGY REPORTING (TV/video): Aki Ito, David Nicholson and Victoria Blackburne-Danielle, of Bloomberg, for “Next Jobs,” a documentary series portraying the careers and lives of people at the frontier of the tech-driven economy with jobs such as delivering blood to hospitals by drone, building tiny moon rovers, growing kale in a factory, using data science to help teams play better basketball, and teaching cars to drive themselves.

VIDEO JOURNALISM (breaking news): Ray Chavez and Dylan Bouscher, of Bay Area News Group, for “Cathy Fallon calls her sister Karen after Paradise house burns down.”

VIDEO JOURNALISM (feature): The “Untold America” team from AJ+ for “Life As A Turban-Wearing American Trucker.”

VIDEO JOURNALISM (portfolio): Randy Vazquez, of the Bay Area News Group, for stories on the relocation of the Oracle Arena, the Golden State Warriors, San Quentin’s culinary education program, tensions over housing between Google and residents in San Jose, and the Mountain View library’s new robot.