Evaluating print and broadcast news in the San Francisco Bay Area from A to F.

Posted October 2, 2003

SPJ Names Matt Marshall of the San Jose Mercury News as Journalist of the Year

San Jose Mercury News reporter Matt Marshall was named Journalist of the Year by the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for his investigative series on CalPers, one of the largest public pension systems in the United States.

Marshall’s exemplary reporting exposed the pivotal but secret role of the fund’s venture capital investments. Due to his work, 1.3 million California workers now know how their retirement money is being invested -- information that was previously unknown and inaccessible to them.

When CalPers stonewalled Marshall’s requests for information on their investments, the Mercury News filed a lawsuit that eventually opened the books. Marshall’s coverage has had an overall effect on state pension funds, causing them to be more accountable for their venture capital results.

The San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury News, KPIX-TV and the East Bay Express were multiple awards winners this year. Other winners include California Lawyer, SFGate.com, the Marin Independent Journal, San Francisco State University, the Oakland Tribune, and CNET News.com.

The Public Service Award went to Jill Tucker, Robert Gammon and Michelle Maitre of the Oakland Tribune, and ANG Newspapers for their special report “Education on the Brink,” which examined the Alameda County school system. Through meticulous research and organizational clarity, this team of reporters disclosed that students with the greatest needs received the least resources.

Sandy Close, the executive editor of Pacific News Service and New California Media won the Distinguished Service Award for her continued efforts to recognize the full scope of diversity within journalism. Close’s work to highlight the contributions of youth journalists and the ethnic news media has enriched journalism and the public’s understanding of the world.

The Career Achievement Awards, in print and broadcast, went to Jane Kay of the San Francisco Chronicle, and Don Knapp, KRON-TV. Kay is recognized for her commitment to the profession and the environmental beat, as seen in her much-awarded body of work over a productive 34-year career. Kay’s impact is a result of her rigorous and tireless reporting on the San Francisco Bay, environmental racism and numerous other stories. Knapp is recognized for decades of steadfast, exceptional general assignment reporting. In stories ranging from the San Francisco earthquake, to the Oklahoma bombing trial, or to the toxic waste clean-up at Fort Ord, Knapp shows the resourcefulness, knowledge, understanding and persistence required to produce an accurate, fair and balanced story every day.

The Unsung Hero Award was given to San Jose Mercury News Data Manager, Jack Davis. Davis’ unparalleled skill and dedication to making sense of literally thousands of bits of information about Silicon Valley, forming the backbone of the Mercury News’ robust business reporting. If “the devil is in the details,” Davis is the person who can find that elusive information to the benefit of reporters and the public.

The John Gothberg Award for outstanding service to the SPJ Northern California chapter went to Richard Knee for his 20-year dedication to the organization, and his active role in promoting the Freedom of Information Act, the First Amendment, and other rights for journalists.

The judging was co-chaired by Bernice Yeung, staff writer at SF Weekly, and Eva Martinez, executive director of Acción Latina.

Full List of Winners:

Daily print category: San Jose Mercury News staff for their coverage of the Santana Row shopping mall fire.
Non-daily print category: William Chiang, the Independent, for his coverage of the two-year labor battle between City Hall and Daly City firefighters.

Online category: Jim Hu and Evan Hansen, CNET News.com, for their special report, “Burying the hatchet,” on the Microsoft – AOL Time Warner settlement.

Daily print category: Karl Schoenberger, San Jose Mercury News, for his series, “Silicon Valley’s Dark Side,” which explored the environmental and economic impact of computer recycling.

Non-daily print category (Tie): Pamela A. Maclean, California Lawyer, and Chris Thompson, East Bay Express. Maclean won for her meticulous reporting in “The Strong Arm,” which reveals the powerful influence of the California prison guard union. Thompson won for “Blood and Money: Revelations,” a complex and sensitive report on Yusuf Bey, an allegedly violent and abusive but prominent black Muslim leader, and the political establishment that protected him.

Broadcast category: Robbi Peele, Hank Plante, Joe Riordan, Rick Villaroman and Greg Marasso, KPIX-TV Channel 5, for their aggressive, hard-hitting report on serious breaches in airport security.

Online category: The CNET News.com staff for their five-part series, “Industrial Evolution,” which examined the impact of new technology on five major industries.

Daily print category (Tie): Stacy Finz and Sam McManis, both of the San Francisco Chronicle. Finz for “The Case of a Lifetime,” which told the story of FBI agent Jeff Rinek, Cary Stayner, and the incidents surrounding the 1999 Yosemite National Park murders. McManis won for his poignant coverage of a transsexual’s journey toward her true identity.

Non-Daily print category: Justin Berton, East Bay Express, for “Confessions of the Beirut Bandit,” a rich exploration into the treachery and charm of a vigorous bank robber.
Broadcast category: Bill Schechner, KPIX-TV Channel 5, for human interest stories that featured a well-aimed eye for detail, and which brought to life the fabric of a community.

Online category: Lisa Margonelli, SFGate.com, for her innovative “MoneyTales” column, which explores our relationships and attitudes toward cash.

Dennis Bolt, Marin Independent Journal, for his elegant, well-rendered graphics that exemplify visual storytelling at its best. Bolt’s work informed the reader and simplified the details of a complex set of information.

Print category: Joel P. Engardio, freelancer for Noodle Magazine and San Francisco Chronicle, for his poignant commentaries on the deadly, yet quiet, spread of Hepatitis B in the Asian American community.

Online category: Andrew Lam, Pacific News Service/AlterNet.com, for his dramatic and original pieces on topics ranging from the erosion of civil rights to the relationship we have with our pets.

Sajid Farooq, San Francisco State University’s Golden Gate [X]press, for solid reporting on a range of topics, including a campus budget crisis, faculty union grievances, and Arabic literature.

Daily print category: K. Oanh Ha, San Jose Mercury News, for “Making it in Mayfair,” a special report on immigrant survival strategies and their pivotal role in the wealth and success of Silicon Valley.

Non-daily print category: Lucia Hwang, California Lawyer, for “The Fixers,” a piece on corrupt immigration consultants who take advantage of newcomers.

Online category: Mike Tarsala, CBS MarketWatch.com, for his story on Oracle-PeopleSoft.

Daily print category: Pauline Lubens, San Jose Mercury News, for her images of the Iraq War, which captured the trauma of displacement, environmental destruction, and the imminent fear of death of the Iraqi people.

Broadcast category: Cecil Houston, KPIX-TV Channel 5, for his ability to capture the essence of stories in creative ways through using multiple angles and close-ups to add an element of action to each piece.

In addition to co-chairs Yeung and Martinez, the judging committee included Belle Adler, Corrie Anders, Cristina Azocar, Gina Baleria, Bill Chiang, Rene Ciria-Cruz, T.J. DeGroat, Andrew DeVigal, Dawn Garcia, Bob Hsiang, Ed Kashi, Beverly Kees, Paul Kleyman, Rick Knee, Sally Lehrman, John McManus, Teresa Moore, Ed Remitz, Dorothy Vriend, Venise Wagner, and Julie Winokur.

Winners will be honored at the SPJ Excellence in Journalism Awards dinner on Wednesday, November 12, 2003, at the Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason Street in San Francisco. Cocktails and silent auction begin at 6 p.m.; dinner begins at 7 p.m. with an awards program to follow. Tickets are $45 for SPJ members, $55 for non-members, and $35 for students. Tables are $510.

--press release prepared by the Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California Chapter





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