The Tribune won four first-place awards and three second-place awards for investigative reporting, writing, photography and design in the annual California Newspaper Publishers Associations’ Better Newspapers Contest.
The Cambrian, a sister weekly that serves the North Coast community, received the prestigious General Excellence Award, which takes into account general news coverage, breadth of coverage, story selection and quality of writing.
The Cambrian, which is produced by Managing Editor Bert Etling and reporter Kathe Tanner, also won two other awards for local government coverage and layout and design.
The results were announced Saturday at an awards luncheon in San Jose.
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The Tribune's first place award for investigative reporting is for a five-part series and subsequent coverage on wine and water that documented the precipitous drop in the North County's main groundwater source, the risks that it poses for residents and the county's economy – and offered solutions.
Response to the series was overwhelming, including more than 500 comments and stories of hardship in print and online.
After the series was published, residents demanded that the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors take steps to develop a series of emergency land-use restrictions to halt the precipitous declines. The board did so two months later, enacting a moratorium on new water uses while leaders and stakeholders negotiate a long-term solution that will preserve the basin for generations to come.
“It is an honor to receive such recognition from our peers," said Tribune Executive Editor Sandra Duerr. "It has long been our mission to provide local investigative and in-depth coverage on issues that residents care about, as well as stories and photos that capture life here on the Central Coast.”
Etling, managing editor of The Cambrian, said, “Getting to make a living finding and sharing truth is a privilege and honor, and it’s an honor and pleasure to receive these awards. The awards re-energize us as we continue to try and find ways to further improve our coverage to better serve our readers."
The Tribune competed in the 15,001-35,000 daily circulation division, and The Cambrian competed in the weekly 4,300-and-under circulation division. Here's a closer look at the awards received:
- First place for best investigative reporting for the Wine and Water series and subsequent coverage (written by reporters Julie Lynem, David Sneed and Tonya Strickland, photographed by David Middlecamp, Joe Johnston and Laura Dickinson, and designed by Beth Anderson and Senior Editor Joe Tarica).
- First place for best editorial comment for editorials on the need to protect the Paso Robles groundwater basin, and on Sheriff Ian Parkinson and the issue of gun control (written by Opinion Editor Stephanie Finucane).
- First place for Best special section for the fall issue of Vintages, a biannual wine and destinations magazine (edited by Sandra Duerr, with art direction by Kristi Marinelly, written by reporters Sarah Linn and Patrick S. Pemberton, and freelancers Sally Buffalo Taylor, Katy Budge and Laurie Daniel, and photographed by Joe Johnston, David Middlecamp and Laura Dickinson).
- First place for Best news photo of a murder victim's grandmother (by Joe Johnston).
- Second place for best writing for a story on a mother and daughter's reunion, 71 years in the making (written by Tonya Strickland).
- Second place for Best feature photo of a dog spinning itself dry, hair flying (by Joe Johnston).
- Second place for Best page layout and design (copy editing and design staff).
- First place for best coverage of local government for Kathe Tanner's series of stories on the controversy over Caltrans' resurfacing of a section of Highway 1 near Cambria.
- Second place for best page layout and design (Bert Etling).
In addition, Tribune reporter Matt Fountain won second place in the Best Enterprise Reporting category for his New Times story on heroin addiction on the Central Coast, in the weekly newspaper category with a circulation of 25,000 or more. Fountain joined The Tribune in January.