CONTACT:  Lila LaHood (415) 846-5346 or Liz Enochs (415) 608-0220

SAN FRANCISCO — The Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California Chapter, honors Jennifer Gollan of the Center for Investigative Reporting as the Journalist of the Year for the 30th Annual Excellence in Journalism Awards

Gollan covers worker safety, mistreatment and corporate malfeasance for Reveal, a radio program and podcast, and its parent organization, the Center for Investigative Reporting, where she has worked since 2012.

Gollan produced two projects recognized by EIJ judges this year as outstanding journalism. She receives an EIJ award for Investigative Reporting for “In North Dakota’s oil boom, there will be blood,” in which she examined how major oil companies avoid accountability for workers’ deaths in the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota. Using classic investigative techniques, Gollan combined good storytelling, colorful writing and rigorous research. She interviewed dozens of oilfield workers, federal regulators, state lawmakers, safety experts and lawyers, and analyzed internal company records and federal investigative reports obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

In response to Gollan’s investigation, state lawmakers in North Dakota are drafting legislation to improve workplace safety standards for oil workers.

Gollan also receives an EIJ award with Matt Smith in Explanatory Journalism for “Techsploitation,” a series that exposed human trafficking and indentured servitude in the tech sector by labor brokers who exploit loopholes in the immigrant worker visa program known as H-1B.

The SPJ NorCal board honors Cheryl Jennings of ABC7 (KGO) with the Career Achievement Award for Broadcast and Harry Harris of the Oakland Tribune with the Career Achievement Award for Print

After 26 years of anchoring the 5 p.m. news for KGO, where she started working in 1979, Jennings is embarking on an exciting change this fall as she heads out of the studio on a special projects assignment that will allow her to do more international reporting. Jennings has focused much of her work on children, family issues and the environment in the Bay Area and beyond, having reported from Mexico, Kosovo, Afghanistan, South Africa, Korea, Israel and the West Bank.

Closer to home, after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, Jennings was the first local reporter on the air — within 10 minutes of the quake. Her work with the ABC team covering the earthquake and its aftermath received a George Foster Peabody Award and a Radio Television News Directors Association Edward R. Murrow Award. She has also been honored six times by the Alliance for Women in Media.

Harris, a longtime police reporter, was recently honored by his colleagues at the Oakland Tribune with a celebration recognizing his 50 years at the newspaper. The son of a former Tribune photographer, Harris spent six years working as a copy boy, followed by a short stint as a copy editor, before he became a crime reporter in 1972. He has covered some of the Bay Area’s biggest news stories throughout his career, including the 1974 kidnapping of newspaper heiress Patty Hearst by the Symbionese Liberation Army, the rise of the Black Panther Party, the Loma Prieta earthquake and the Oakland Hills firestorm. By his own count, Harris has covered more than 4,800 of the more than 5,000 homicides that have occurred in Oakland since 1972. Colleagues commend Harris for giving selflessly of his time, mentoring young reporters by generously sharing his experiences and expertise.

The Silver Heart Award goes to Malcolm Marshall, editor of the Richmond Pulse, a multimedia news website that helps young journalists cover their community — Richmond, California — and strives to amplify the voices of underserved residents. Richmond Pulse, launched as an independent site by Marshall with support from New America Media in 2011, focuses attention on community and health issues, strives to spark conversation and help residents become better informed about local challenges so that they can work together to pursue effective solutions. The news site was the first of six youth-media projects producing hyper-local news content in underserved communities that now make up YouthWire. Marshall has worked with New America Media on various projects, having joined the organization through YO! Youth Outlook, its original multimedia youth journalism initiative.

Bernie Beck, who retired in July as chief of the copy desk at the San Francisco Chronicle, receives the Unsung Hero Award. Beck joined the Chronicle in 1980, serving 35 years on the copy desk. Former colleagues describe him with great admiration, saying that he led his department through several difficult rounds of restructuring while managing to keep his humanity intact. Beck also maintained “Chron Notes,” a longtime newsletter for Chronicle alumni. He reported straightforward news on departures, postcards from far-flung former colleagues, and reports on triumphs and deaths of Chronsters. The latest one, dated Aug. 13, reported his own departure. His top goal? To spend more time with his grandson — and figure out what to do with all those free nights.

Geoffrey King and Tom Peele are honored with the board’s John Gothberg/Meritorious Service to SPJ Award. As co-chairs of the chapter’s FOI Committee last year, King, an attorney who coordinates Internet and technology policy efforts for the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Peele, an investigative reporter for the Bay Area News Group, led initiatives that earned the chapter a national SPJ Circle of Excellence Award for outstanding contributions and excellence in the area of freedom of information.

In addition to organizing the annual James Madison Freedom of Information Awards, the FOI Committee vets SPJ NorCal’s candidates for nomination to San Francisco’s Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, organizes training — on FOI topics, digital privacy and data security for journalists — and advises the chapter’s board on FOI and ethics issues. Last year, that included meeting with the mayor of Berkeley about improper treatment of journalists covering protests. They also led the chapter to campaign for California Proposition 42, an initiative to strengthen the state’s public records and open meetings laws to ensure that they can never be suspended — ensuring journalists’ ability to perform their role as government watchdogs. With the help of Peele and King, the chapter launched a special legal fund to cover costs associated with FOI activities.

MapLight receives the SPJ NorCal Board of Directors’ Distinguished Service to Journalism Award for its 10 years of shedding light on political campaign finance. MapLight’s research into campaign contributions helps journalists report on local, state and national elections. The organization brings much needed transparency to political races in California and nationwide.

The Public Service Award goes to Karen de Sá and Dai Sugano of the San Jose Mercury News for the story package “Drugging Our Kids.” This stories illuminated an issue affecting some of the most vulnerable people in California with deep research, powerful examples of foster kids’ experiences and great visuals. De Sá and Sugano deftly told the story from several angles with powerful narrative, strong and clear data, and compelling and haunting images.

The 2015 winners will be honored at SPJ NorCal’s 30th Excellence in Journalism Awards Dinner on Tuesday, Nov. 10, at the City Club in San Francisco.

For details and to purchase tickets, please see http://bit.ly/EIJ2015AwardsDinner



JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR: Jennifer Gollan, Center for Investigative Reporting


CAREER ACHIEVEMENT — PRINT: Harry Harris, Oakland Tribune

UNSUNG HERO: Bernie Beck, recently retired from San Francisco Chronicle

SILVER HEART: Malcolm Marshall, Richmond Pulse

JOHN GOTHBERG/MERITORIOUS SERVICE TO SPJ: Geoffrey King, Committee to Protect Journalists; and Thomas Peele, Bay Area News Group



ARTS & CULTURE (print/text small division): Sarah Burke, of the East Bay Express, for “Moral Combat,” which captures nuances about gaming and the kinds of voices that are trying to break into a world that is fighting to keep them out.

ARTS & CULTURE (radio/audio): Lisa Morehouse, an independent radio journalist, for her “California Foodways” series, which goes far beyond the food on our plates and tells us about the people who put it there.

ARTS & CULTURE (TV/video): Lori Halloran, Aaron Drury, Blake McHugh and Owen Bissell of KQED for “Bleak Beauty,” a portrait of artist David Maisel that introduces his work while sparking a conversation about the destruction of our planet.

BEST SCOOP (all media): Alex Emslie of KQED for “Racist Texts Prompt Probe of S.F. Police Officers,” which broke the news that officers had swapped racist, sexist and anti-gay text messages with a former police sergeant. The scandal ultimately led to resignations, disciplinary actions and racial-sensitivity training for the police department. The story had nationwide impact and was especially newsworthy amid mounting scrutiny of law enforcement’s treatment of citizens in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country.

BREAKING NEWS (radio/audio): KQED staffers sprang into action when the 6.0 South Napa earthquake struck at 3:20 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014. Although no one was on duty over the weekend, KQED’s team quickly produced timely, comprehensive coverage, from explainers on the science of temblors to eyewitness accounts of the destruction in Napa, on multiple platforms.

COMMENTARY (all media): Leila Day and Jen Chien of KALW for “Sounding White,” a report that highlighted an important and timely issue. Their compelling, substantive commentary helps increase awareness of the complexity of daily life for people whose cultural identities are defined in part by code-switching.

COMMUNITY JOURNALISM (print/text): Daniel Hirsch, Andrea Valencia, Laura Wenus and Lydia Chavez of Mission Local for their broad, in-depth coverage of San Francisco’s Mission District, with a strong focus on how housing issues affect residents.

DATA VISUALIZATION: Phillip Reese for the Sacramento Bee’s Data Tracker, which offers a series of in-depth data visualizations and makes sophisticated use of some of the most powerful tools available to tell complex, local, community-oriented stories.

EXPLANATORY JOURNALISM (print/text large division): Matt Smith and Jennifer Gollan of the Center for Investigative Reporting for “Techsploitation.” (Described above.)

EXPLANATORY JOURNALISM (print/text small division): The staff of the San Francisco Public Press for “Creative Solutions to San Francisco’s Housing Crisis,” which made an exceptional effort to explore a wide range of solutions, from legal changes around zoning and construction requirements to new types of housing units that could be built, and included a public event where ideas were solicited.

EXPLANATORY JOURNALISM (radio/audio): Zaidee Stavely of KQED for “Books and Bullets,” which takes listeners to the frontlines of an immediate crisis — that of guns in our communities and our schools — and then drills deeper to explore the context of race, culture and community. The coverage looks beyond stories of horrific, lone-gunman massacres to zero in on the routine, low-profile devastation that current gun policies and culture inflict upon Bay Area communities.

EXPLANATORY JOURNALISM (TV/video): The staff at Univision for “Niños de la Frontera,” a series on the 2014 humanitarian crisis that sent thousands of children from Central America to the United States. Telling the stories of children who made a treacherous journey to escape violence in their homelands, Univision drew attention to an undercovered topic and gave voice to the voiceless.

FEATURE STORYTELLING (print/text large division — magazine): Byard Duncan for “Inside the World of E-Sports at the DoTA International 2014” in GQ, which takes readers inside the highly specialized world of competitive video gaming. Gamers and non-gamers alike will love this story because of the richness of Duncan’s writing.

FEATURE STORYTELLING (print/text large division — newspaper): Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News for “The Pitcher and the Patient,” which delved into the relationship between Giants pitcher Sergio Romo and a girl who was dying of cancer during the 2012 championship season. Brown exercises great restraint in his language and grounds the story in a series of suspenseful events, creating a wonderful tribute to a remarkable girl and a lovely friendship.

FEATURE STORYTELLING (print/text small division): Ellen Cushing of San Francisco Magazine for “The Smartest Bro in the Room,” about Uber’s CEO, which exhibited incredible depth of reporting, contributed to the public discussion about an important issue affecting San Franciscans, and challenged stereotypes through balanced, thoughtful storytelling.

FEATURE STORYTELLING (radio/audio): Jasmin Lopez, George Lavender, Brandon Thibodeaux and Mitra Kaboli of Making Contact for “Deadly Divide: Migrant Death on the Border,” which tells the harrowing story of migrants who risked their lives to cross into the United States from various vantages. The reporters shined light on those who collect the bodies of the dead, a forensic scientist who pieces together the lives of the deceased from their bones and a retiree who each day delivers water to spots that dot the parched landscape to try and spare the lives of those crossing.

FEATURE STORYTELLING (TV/video): Monica Lam, Scott Shafer and Henry Rubin of KQED for “Investing in Lifer Inmates,” a thoughtful and well-crafted piece examining changes in California’s criminal justice system. As the state begins granting parole to prisoners previously sentenced to life in prison, KQED’s story highlighted a program that is trying to prepare inmates for life on the outside.

INVESTIGATIVE (print/text large division): Jennifer Gollan, of the Center for Investigative Reporting, for “In North Dakota’s oil boom, there will be blood.” (Described above.)

INVESTIGATIVE (print/text small division): The staff of the San Francisco Public Press for “Choice is Resegregating Public Schools,” which found that San Francisco’s public schools, despite the best intentions of education officials and parents, have become more racially segregated.

INVESTIGATIVE (radio/audio): Reporters Christina Jewett and Will Evans, and producers Marianne McCune and Delaney Hall, of Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting, for “Bogus Screws Ended up in Spines of Surgery Patients.” Told with the suspense of a detective novel, the story shows how corporate greed led to the manufacture of fake surgical screws that were placed in the backs of patients around the country.

INVESTIGATIVE (TV/video): “Rape on the Night Shift,” a collaboration by the staff of Frontline, UC Berkeley’s Investigative Reporting Program, Univision, KQED and Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting. This investigation, which was national in scope, exposed a dirty secret in the janitorial business: the abuse of female night janitors. The reporting linked the problem to broader societal issues such as illegal immigration and human trafficking.

JOURNALISM INNOVATION: Lisa Aliferis and Lisa Pickoff-White of KQED for PriceCheck, a tool for crowdsourcing information about medical costs. The results are used in news articles, and the wider public can access the database to search for costs in medical care and compare prices. This novel, useful and informative application of crowdsourcing represents great public service journalism.

OUTSTANDING EMERGING JOURNALIST: Angela Johnston of KALW Public Radio brings journalistic passion to everything she covers. Her stories showed great skill in weaving audio, text and visuals together to communicate compellingly. Her versatility and creativity were put to particularly good use in a story about how a robot is changing the life of a Bay Area man who suffered a rare stroke.

PHOTOJOURNALISM (breaking news — individual): Karl Mondon of the San Jose Mercury News for a striking photo that captured a burglary suspect perched precariously atop a three-story Victorian during a 13-hour standoff with police.

PHOTOJOURNALISM (breaking news — team): The staff of the Bay Area News Group staff for coverage of the Oakland protests that was so vivid and comprehensive, readers felt as though they were at the scene themselves.

PHOTOJOURNALISM (photo essay): Photographs by Matt Black and writing by Tom Philpott of Mother Jones for “California Goes Nuts,” a strong visual narrative of almond production during the California drought.

PHOTOJOURNALISM (portfolio): LiPo Ching of the San Jose Mercury News for a portfolio of images that display incredible composition, capturing moments that tell strong stories.

PHOTOJOURNALISM (single image): Patrick Tehan of the San Jose Mercury News for a dynamic, beautifully captured photo of Bruce Bochy celebrating at the Giants’ parade.

PUBLIC SERVICE: Karen de Sá and Dai Sugano of the San Jose Mercury News for the story package “Drugging Our Kids.” (Described above.)

VIDEO JOURNALISM (portfolio): Adam Grossberg of KQED for pioneering a new way of thinking about how stories can be told visually. His cinematic pieces are engaging and engrossing. They are also having the kind of impact journalists hope to achieve. One of his pieces for KQED’s “Boomtown” series generated 7,000 comments on Facebook as viewers debated the effects of the current tech boom — thereby producing the result every journalist hopes for: to provoke discussion among citizens about the urgent issues of our time.

VIDEO JOURNALISM (essay): Jim Gensheimer of the San Jose Mercury News for “A Community Built on Care,” which illustrated with clarity and sensitivity the challenge of addressing the particular needs of people who are poor and have Alzheimer’s. The piece is unsparing but enormously evocative and offers a respectful view into the relationship between an adult daughter and her mother who are making their way with grace.

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