Singing Our Own Praises: We Receive the Society of Professional Journalists’ NorCal Unsung Hero Award
Every year the NorCal Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists honors members of the media. This year they chose Redheaded Blackbelt founder, Kym Kemp, (yes, I’m patting myself on the back because we’re so small, we don’t have anyone else to cover this) for the Unsung Hero award.
The Society announced the honor today. They note in the announcement that we cover “hyperlocal community news and crime, which sometimes evolve into much bigger stories.” They especially noted the articles, first reported on this site and dug into more deeply by KQED, about police officers taking marijuana grown in Humboldt County and then not logging it into evidence. This led to officers in the Rohnert Park Police and Fire Department being put on leave.
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Full Press release below:
The Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California Chapter, honors Matthias Gafni of the Mercury News/East Bay Times as Journalist of the Year for the 33rd Annual Excellence in Journalism Awards.
The chapter honors Gafni for his tireless pursuit of public records and relentless reporting to get to the bottom of systemic problems. His work revealed the contribution of downed utility lines to Wine Country fires last year, exposed how governmental failures led to a toddler’s death from methamphetamine poisoning while she was in foster care, and showed how an Air Canada jet barely missed crashing into multiple airplanes at SFO on a landing approach.
The SPJ NorCal board honors Carolyn Tyler, who recently retired from ABC7, with the Career Achievement Award for Broadcast. Tyler spent 32 years chronicling many of the Bay Area’s major stories as a reporter and weekend anchor. She was part of the team that won a Peabody Award for coverage of the Loma Prieta earthquake, and she snagged interviews with personalities from Willie Mays to Oprah Winfrey. She also relentlessly covered the region’s political stories, from homelessness to the fight for marriage equality.
The board also honors Gary Richards of the Mercury News/East Bay Times with the Career Achievement Award for Print. His low-key but determined approach to addressing readers’ problems with the region’s transportation network has consistently made his eight-times-a-week “Roadshow” column the Mercury News’s most popular feature. And when physical problems left him unable to drive, he conscripted traffic engineers, CHP officers, and even his life partner, now known as “Mrs. Roadshow” into the column to be his eyes and ears. Also: when he contacted the powers-that-be, things that were broken got fixed.
Kym Kemp receives the Unsung Hero Award. She is a Southern Humboldt blogger who covers hyperlocal community news and crime, which sometimes evolve into much bigger stories. Kemp’s initial reporting about multiple drivers who said Rohnert Park police pulled them over on minor pretexts and then seized their marijuana and cash under asset forfeiture led to a collaboration with KQED. Further investigation showed that the seized items were not properly logged by police. The city began an administrative investigation and subsequently put two of the officers involved in the incidents on leave.
KZST receives the SPJ NorCal Board of Directors’ Distinguished Service to Journalism Award. Staff at the Santa Rosa radio station pitched in and used their own cars to move nearby patients to safe locations when they heard their station was likely to be consumed by last year’s Wine Country fires. Once they got the all-clear, staffers — only one of whom had a journalism background — returned to work and rolled up their sleeves, changing the station format from music to news to serve their community’s immediate need for information about the fires.
The Silver Heart Award goes to Alexis Terrazas of El Tecolote. His in-depth research and fearless interviews with white nationalist proponents uncovered a nationalist who subsequently was terminated from employment and exposed a Ku Klux Klansman who was hiding his Catholic and Jewish heritage. His reporting has been used by KQED for its investigation into white nationalist groups implicated in the attacks in Charlottesville, Virginia, and aired by Univision in Spanish for a report that won a Northern California Emmy.
Dr. Derek Kerr is honored with the board’s John Gothberg/Meritorious Service to SPJ Award. Kerr is a member of the chapter’s Freedom of Information committee and a whistleblower who won a legal fight against San Francisco’s Laguna Honda hospital for firing him after he exposed their misuse of funds that were intended for patients. He has worked tirelessly in favor of sunshine laws and policies ever since, and has been a crucial supporter of SPJ NorCal’s work in this area.
The 2018 winners will be honored at SPJ NorCal’s 33rd Excellence in Journalism Awards Dinner on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at Delancey Street Restaurant in San Francisco. For details and to purchase tickets, please see https://spjnorcal2018eij.
2018 Award Winners
JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR: Matthias Gafni, Mercury News/East Bay Times
CAREER ACHIEVEMENT — BROADCAST: Carolyn Tyler, ABC7
CAREER ACHIEVEMENT — PRINT: Gary Richards, Mercury News/East Bay Times
UNSUNG HERO: Kym Kemp, Redheaded Blackbelt
SILVER HEART: Alexis Terrazas, El Tecolote
DISTINGUISHED SERVICE TO JOURNALISM: KZST radio
JOHN GOTHBERG/MERITORIOUS SERVICE TO SPJ: Dr. Derek Kerr
ARTS & CULTURE (print/online large division): Nastia Voynovskaya of KQED for “Saving the Music of Ghost Ship Victims Helps Loved Ones Heal.”
ARTS & CULTURE (print/online small division): Rebecca Huvel, Rachel Leibrock, Steph Rodriguez of Sacramento News & Review for their food reporting in “Baked-in love,” “The cost of a meal,” and “The paprika steeper.”
ARTS & CULTURE (radio/audio): Ian Coss, Nancy Mullane and Tony Gannon of Life of the Law for “Gift and Curse of Music — Haiti’s Fight for Copyright.”
ARTS & CULTURE (TV/video): Kelley Whalen of KQED for arts and culture filmmaking, including “Meet the Ace of Cups, the Haight’s (Almost) Forgotten All-Girl Band,” “Watch a Santa Rosa Cartoonist’s ‘Fire Story’ Come to Life,” and “Street Artist Reflects Native American Dignity at a Monumental Scale.”
BEST SCOOP (all media): Jennifer Wadsworth of Metro Silicon Valley for her coverage of claims about Santa Clara councilman Dominic Caserta’s history of sexual harassment, loss of endorsements, police investigation and resignation.
BREAKING NEWS (print/online): Joe Eskenazi, Laura Wenus, Julian Mark of Mission Local for their coverage of Mayor Ed Lee’s untimely death, the feelings of the Chinese community in the Mission and other Mission leaders, and appointment of Mark Farrell as interim mayor.
COMMENTARY/ANALYSIS (radio/audio): Kanwalroop Kaur Singh, Lisa Morehouse, James Rowlands and Gabe Grabin of KALW for “‘I ain’t here for no reason’: Stories of Sikh-American resilience.”
COMMUNITY JOURNALISM (print/online – general): Joe Eskenazi, Lydia Chavez and Julian Mark of Mission Local for their range, texture and depth of coverage of San Francisco’s Mission District.
COMMUNITY JOURNALISM (print/online – single subject): The San Francisco Public Press for “Solving Homelessness,” a project exploring several ways for getting more people into housing, including an analysis of city data on empty rooms in residential hotels.
COMMUNITY JOURNALISM (radio/audio): KALW and Oakland Voices for “Sights & Sounds of East Oakland” which highlights neighborhood stories featuring local history, youth voices, transit issues, neighborhood safety and more.
COMMUNITY JOURNALISM (TV/video): The Northern California staff of Univision 14, for a special episode of “Tu Gente, Tu Voz” featuring an array of community stories.
DATA VISUALIZATION (all media): Aaron Glantz, Emmanuel Martinez, Allison McCartney and Michael Corey from Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting for “Kept Out,” an interactive visualization showing racial discrimination in mortgage lending across the United States.
DESIGN (print): Reid M. Brown, HyunJu Chappell and Noah Arroyo of the San Francisco Public Press for the print layout, graphics and design for “Solving Homelessness.”
EXPLANATORY JOURNALISM (print/online large division): Julia Lurie of Mother Jones for her reporting on the opioid epidemic, including portraits of the human cost of addiction, with stories of treatment and relapse, as well as the battles of law enforcement and medical personnel to cope and help.
EXPLANATORY JOURNALISM (print/online large division): Jennifer Gollan of Reveal for The Center for Investigative Reporting for “Treading Dangerously,” about lax safety inside a Goodyear tire plant that resulted in the death of a worker.
EXPLANATORY JOURNALISM (print/online small division): Matt Levin, Ben Christopher and John Osborn D’Agostino of CALmatters for “Californians: Here’s why your housing costs are so high,” which included a take on what a $500,000 home looks like in different parts of the state, the influence of foreign investors and housing costs for refugees.
EXPLANATORY JOURNALISM (radio/audio): Eli Wirtschafter, Andrew Stelzer, James Rowlands and Gabe Grabin of KALW for “Curb Wars,” a series of stories about parking, public parklets and the high demand and competition for curb access in San Francisco.
FEATURES JOURNALISM (print/online large division): Ellen Huet of Bloomberg Businessweek for “The Dark Side of OneTaste.”
FEATURES JOURNALISM (print/online small division): Raheem F. Hosseini of Sacramento News & Review for “His brother‘s keeper.”
FEATURES (radio/audio): Anouthinh Pangthong, Greg Eskridge, Kelton O’Connor, Luke Colondres and Miguel Sifuentes of San Quentin Radio and KALW for a series of audio features on losing your language, rebuilding family relationships, autism, team building and the cycle of incarceration in one family.
FEATURES AND LONGFORM STORYTELLING (TV/video): Dena Takruri, Shadi Rahimi, Melissa Aparicio and Youssif Salah of AJ+ for “Why Oakland Wants Ex-Convicts To Grow Weed.”
INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING (print/online large division): Thomas Peele and Harriet Blair Rowan of the Mercury News/East Bay Times for “Burned Out,” their shocking report on the failure of fire inspectors across the Bay Area to perform state-required inspections of schools and apartment buildings.
INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING (print/online small division): Jennifer Wadsworth of Metro Silicon Valley for reporting on the Santa Clara County sheriffs’ hate speech texting scandal, including a demotion, an ouster, a statement from other officers who said they would leave, campaign compromises, a lost endorsement and ultimately a resignation.
INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING (radio/audio): Sukey Lewis, Marisa Lagos and Lisa Pickoff-White of KQED for “‘My World Was Burning’: The North Bay Fires and What Went Wrong.”
INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING (TV/video): Vicky Nguyen, Kevin Nious, Jeremy Carroll and Mark Villarreal of KNTV NBC Bay Area for “Drivers Under Siege.”
LONGFORM STORYTELLING (print/online large division): Julia Prodis Sulek and LiPo Ching of the Mercury News/East Bay Times for “Hanging: The Mysterious Case of the Boy in the Barn.”
LONGFORM STORYTELLING (print/online small division): Frances Dinkelspiel of Berkeleyside for “One day, one night: The fuse that lit the Battles of Berkeley.”
LONGFORM STORYTELLING (radio/audio): Angela Johnston, Marissa Ortega-Welch and Lisa Morehouse of KALW for “Persistent Poison: Lead’s toxic legacy in the