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by JUDY HODGSON
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 Newspaper 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,
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
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
Finally, a contributing free-lance
writer, Jim Rossi, was a finalist for his Feb. 6, 2003 story,
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
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
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