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Bragging rights


I often brag about what a talented group of writers we have contributing each week to the Journal. However, it is especially gratifying when others in our profession recognize that talent.

Last month we learned that staff writer Emily Gurnon [photo at right] won an award --or second place -- in the California Newspaperphoto of Emily Gurnon Publishers Association 2003 Better Newspapers Contest. In addition, three other Journal entries, each by different writers, were awarded Blue Ribbon Finalist certificates. That means they made it into the final round of judging and were among the top 10 percent of the nearly 5,000 entries -- no easy feat.

Emily won for her feature story, "Mistaking the enemy," which appeared Aug. 21, 2003. It was a story about a disturbing and growing trend among educated parents who, after researching benefits and drawbacks, are choosing not to have their children immunized, putting their children and playmates at risk. (Readers may recall the high volume of mail the story generated!)

Editor Keith Easthouse was a Blue Ribbon finalist in the environmental/agricultural resource reporting category. His Jan. 16, 2003 story, "Sacrifice Zone," detailed the devastation of the Van Duzen watershed from excessive logging by Pacific Lumber Co. under its Headwaters-approved timber harvest plan. Of particular interest in that story was the continuing disagreement between the California Department of Foresty, which approved the plans, and the state water board, which continues to object.

Staff writer Hank Sims was a Blue Ribbon finalist in the feature category. Hank's award-winning story was the Sept. 25, 2003 profile of Assistant District Attorney Tim Stoen, "Standing in the shadows of Jonestown." It was a detailed look at a complex man, tracing his roots from his days as an attorney for the Peoples Temple (he was Jim Jones' right-hand man) all the way to Humboldt County. That controversial figure continues to be controversial. (See "Stoen has no history of sexual harassment, bosses say," June 3.)

Finally, a contributing free-lance writer, Jim Rossi, was a finalist for his Feb. 6, 2003 story, "Is the water bag proposal a Trojan horse?" a look at the plan to ship water down to water-hungry Southern California. This story, like the other award winners, went a step further than just compiling the facts. It raised the possibility that such a project could impair the water district's future ability to control its own water because of international trade laws.

Complex issues. No easy solutions. But all of these well-written stories were presented with clarity and fairness in a very readable format.

This is the second year in a row of CNPA awards for both Emily and Keith. Last year Keith won for two environmental stories -- the long-term overharvesting of rockfish and the dioxin-tainted shellfish of the North Bay -- and Emily received one for her report on the poor dental care of Humboldt's low-income children.

Last week we also learned that Emily's 2002 story, called "Worlds of pain: Why so many Humboldt kids can't get dental care," won an honorable mention in the Casey journalism competition.

The Casey Journalism Center is a national, nonprofit program at the University of Maryland "devoted to deepening the coverage of social issues affecting children and families, particularly the disadvantaged." The rather short list of 2004 winners reads like a who's who of journalism: The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, The Oregonian. There were only two winners in the "Nondaily newspaper" category and Emily's story was one of them.

Congratulations to our entire editorial staff. I am proud of them -- and just a tiny bit jealous, as I look over my couple of 20-year-old CNPAs hanging on the wall.



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