The Pleasanton Weekly earned two awards and four more recognitions for its coverage during 2017 when the California News Publishers Association handed out its annual California Journalism Awards last Saturday in Sonoma.
CNPA judges awarded the Weekly second place for the "Your Muslim Neighbor" cover story and third place for ongoing coverage of the Verona Reach creek erosion, plus named the paper among the top-five finalists statewide in four other categories -- including for the first time ever, General Excellence.
Journalists from states outside of California selected the winners of the annual competition from among daily, weekly and school newspapers out of thousands of entries. The Pleasanton Weekly competed in the "Weeklies 11,001-25,000" circulation division -- except for the Online General Excellence category, which was 11,001 and over.
Leading the way for the Weekly was "Your Muslim Neighbor," which earned second-place in the Feature Story category.
The Sept. 8, 2017 cover story by first-year reporter Erika Alvero spotlighted the Pleasanton Muslim Community Center's "Your Muslim Neighbor" panels that aim to debunk misconceptions about Islam and to allow nearby fellow residents to get to know the local Muslim community.
One CNPA judge described the article as "a vital story for communities, well-told and with an outstanding print layout."
The Weekly earned third place in Coverage of Local Government for reporter Julia (Reis) Brown's 2017 coverage of the Verona Reach creek erosion, damage to residential properties and the Zone 7 Water Agency's response.
One CNPA judge lauded the Verona Reach series, saying "(it) shows how bureaucratic red tape literally leaves homeowners hanging for solutions as the bank behind their homes crumbles. Good job showing the growing frustration."
In a first for the paper, the Pleasanton Weekly was a top-5 finalist across the state for the top prize: General Excellence. The Weekly's entry featured five print editions for the award, highlighted by the Oct. 6, 2017 edition with the comprehensive "BART to Livermore" cover story by editor Jeremy Walsh.
The judges' comments for that award included, "The Pleasanton Weekly is a very good read with a nice mix of stories (news, entertainment, sports and a well-reported, in-depth cover story)."
Claiming the General Excellence award was the Weekly's sister paper, the Mountain View Voice.
The Weekly was also named a finalist for Online General Excellence for continuous coverage on PleasantonWeekly.com.
The CNPA judges singled out the Weekly again for Coverage of Local Government, this time as a finalist for reporting by Brown and Walsh on the Pleasanton Unified School District's superintendent situation in 2017.
The year started with the abrupt, unexplained firing of then-Superintendent Rick Rubino, followed by revelations about Rubino's termination, and then continued into the school board's search for a new leader and ultimately the hiring of current Superintendent David Haglund from Santa Ana.
Lastly, the Weekly earned a finalist placement in Profile Story for the June 9, 2017 cover story "An American classic" highlighting Pleasanton resident Miguel Jara, owner of San Francisco's famed La Taqueria restaurant who won a James Beard Award earlier in the year.
This marked another recognition for Brown, who was promoted to associate editor of the Weekly's sister papers the Mountain View Voice and The Almanac in February.
"The CNPA awards are a testament to the hard work and dedication of the Weekly's editorial team, as well as our design and production staffs, to provide high-quality newspaper coverage for our community," said Gina Channell, publisher of the Pleasanton Weekly and president of Embarcadero Media Group's East Bay Division.
The CNPA is a nonprofit trade association for more than 800 publications. Founded in 1888, it represents daily and weekly newspapers and news websites throughout California.