News

What a Week: Big award season for us

First place for Public Service Journalism highlights our 12 CNPA awards

The California News Publishers Association's 2020 Journalism Awards was truly one for the books for the Pleasanton Weekly.

We earned 12 awards in all, between first and fifth places in print and digital categories, for our work during an unprecedentedly demanding year.

Editor Jeremy Walsh.

Each of member of our Pleasanton Weekly and DanvilleSanRamon editorial team received recognition. We placed fourth for Online General Excellence in our circulation division. I got two second-place awards, including for my editorial on the Kate Steinle case.

But one award stands above the rest in my eyes.

We won first place for Public Service Journalism (Digital) for our 2020 Tri-Valley candidate forum series. This CNPA award is a well-earned testament to the hard work our entire editorial team put into a grueling local election season in the midst of a global pandemic.

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What a whirlwind it was.

Our publisher Gina Channell Wilcox and I co-moderated eight forum events for 12 Tri-Valley local election races during a five-week stretch between August and September, including forums on four nights in a row from Sept. 21-24 -- every one in the evening after a full workday.

Here I am in my "home studio" minutes before our final Tri-Valley candidate forum last September. (Photo by Elise Walsh)

Each event was free and livestreamed, with a video-recording posted online afterward for voters to access whenever they had time before submitting their ballot. We also featured individual news stories about every forum, with reporters Ryan J. Degan, Julia Baum and Cierra Bailey alternating coverage amid other stories assignments.

The result: Live candidate forums for (in order, chronologically) Alameda County District 1 Supervisor, Pleasanton Mayor and City Council, Dublin Mayor and City Council, Dublin School Board, Pleasanton School Board, Livermore Mayor and City Council, San Ramon Valley School Board, and San Ramon Mayor and City Council.

That was twice as many as we'd ever had in any single election cycle.

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All of this while our team and I were also in the throes of pandemic and wildfire coverage, among a wealth of other news during hectic 2020.

Reporter Ryan J. Degan took fifth place in Photo Coverage of Protests and Racial Justice (Digital) for this photo, "Moment of silence (8:46) during Pleasanton march."

But, as I told the CNPA judges in our nomination packet, the candidate forums were an important priority for us.

We co-organized the events because the stakeholders wanted them and because we recognized that without us, they would not happen: No other local or regional news media would be presenting interactive, objective, live debates for Tri-Valley elections.

The judges certainly took note. One wrote, in part:

"Their reporting on the candidates, issues and forums was top-notch, and when compounded by the fact that they set up and moderated these forums and during a pandemic and while completing their 'regular' jobs, it's almost unfathomable that the staff was able to accomplish this without having some wide variety of super powers.

"This is the type of journalism and newsroom that I will teach to my reporting public affairs students for years, as it represents the very best of what we can be and do as local journalists when we try hard enough to make it happen...

"This is good, old-fashioned reporting at its best, and the timeline behind it all again makes me wonder if super powers came into play. This team and the Pleasanton Weekly truly did its community a tremendous public service."

I'm so proud of this honor from our peers.

In all, we received four Print Division awards (Weeklies, 11,001-25,000 circulation) and eight Digital Division awards (Monthly unique visitors 100,000 and under for all except Coverage of Local Government, which was expanded to 400,000 visitors and under).

Also of note, our former photo intern Daniel Kim earned seven awards, including two first-place wins, for his photography coverage with the Sacramento Bee last year. Former Weekly reporter Julia Brown was honored with second place in Feature Story for work with our sister paper, The Almanac. And locally, the Las Positas College-Express won top honors for 2-year college paper.

Here's the full list of the Weekly's 2020 awards:

First place

Public Service Journalism (Digital): 2020 Tri-Valley candidate forum series - Staff

Here I am co-moderating our first forum (the only in-person format), for Alameda County District 1 Supervisor. (Photo courtesy of Amos Productions)

Second place

Editorial Comment (Print): "Steinle case: A complete miscarriage of justice" - Jeremy Walsh

Breaking News (Digital): "Pleasanton PD officers cleared of criminal charges for man's death after confrontation outside Raley's" - Jeremy Walsh

Third place

Feature Story (Print): "On the road again" - Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Profile Story (Print): "Gretchen's legacy" - Ryan J. Degan

News Photo (Digital): "Dining out in Pleasanton" - Ryan J. Degan

Reporter Ryan J. Degan earned third place for News Photo (Digital) for "Dining out in Pleasanton" depicting the scene in downtown on the first day outdoor dining reopened in Alameda County last June.

Fourth place

Online General Excellence: PleasantonWeekly.com - Staff

Editorial Comment (Print): "The time for the first community debate on policing in Pleasanton is now" - Jeremy Walsh

Coverage of Youth and Education (Digital): "Danville student settles free-speech lawsuit against SRVUSD, will receive $655,000 and public apology" - Ryan J. Degan

Fifth place

Coverage of Local Government (Digital): "Policing in Pleasanton" series - Julia Baum and Jeremy Walsh. (Lead story here)

Photo Coverage of Protests and Racial Justice (Digital): "Moment of silence (8:46) during Pleasanton march" - Ryan J. Degan

Coverage of Youth and Education (Digital): "Another abrupt superintendent departure for Dublin Unified" - Jeremy Walsh, Riya Chopra and Cierra Bailey. (Lead story here).

Editor's note: Jeremy Walsh has been the editor of the Pleasanton Weekly since February 2017. His "What a Week" column runs on the first and third Fridays of the month.

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What a Week: Big award season for us

First place for Public Service Journalism highlights our 12 CNPA awards

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, May 21, 2021, 3:42 pm
Updated: Sun, May 23, 2021, 5:00 pm

The California News Publishers Association's 2020 Journalism Awards was truly one for the books for the Pleasanton Weekly.

We earned 12 awards in all, between first and fifth places in print and digital categories, for our work during an unprecedentedly demanding year.

Each of member of our Pleasanton Weekly and DanvilleSanRamon editorial team received recognition. We placed fourth for Online General Excellence in our circulation division. I got two second-place awards, including for my editorial on the Kate Steinle case.

But one award stands above the rest in my eyes.

We won first place for Public Service Journalism (Digital) for our 2020 Tri-Valley candidate forum series. This CNPA award is a well-earned testament to the hard work our entire editorial team put into a grueling local election season in the midst of a global pandemic.

What a whirlwind it was.

Our publisher Gina Channell Wilcox and I co-moderated eight forum events for 12 Tri-Valley local election races during a five-week stretch between August and September, including forums on four nights in a row from Sept. 21-24 -- every one in the evening after a full workday.

Each event was free and livestreamed, with a video-recording posted online afterward for voters to access whenever they had time before submitting their ballot. We also featured individual news stories about every forum, with reporters Ryan J. Degan, Julia Baum and Cierra Bailey alternating coverage amid other stories assignments.

The result: Live candidate forums for (in order, chronologically) Alameda County District 1 Supervisor, Pleasanton Mayor and City Council, Dublin Mayor and City Council, Dublin School Board, Pleasanton School Board, Livermore Mayor and City Council, San Ramon Valley School Board, and San Ramon Mayor and City Council.

That was twice as many as we'd ever had in any single election cycle.

All of this while our team and I were also in the throes of pandemic and wildfire coverage, among a wealth of other news during hectic 2020.

But, as I told the CNPA judges in our nomination packet, the candidate forums were an important priority for us.

We co-organized the events because the stakeholders wanted them and because we recognized that without us, they would not happen: No other local or regional news media would be presenting interactive, objective, live debates for Tri-Valley elections.

The judges certainly took note. One wrote, in part:

"Their reporting on the candidates, issues and forums was top-notch, and when compounded by the fact that they set up and moderated these forums and during a pandemic and while completing their 'regular' jobs, it's almost unfathomable that the staff was able to accomplish this without having some wide variety of super powers.

"This is the type of journalism and newsroom that I will teach to my reporting public affairs students for years, as it represents the very best of what we can be and do as local journalists when we try hard enough to make it happen...

"This is good, old-fashioned reporting at its best, and the timeline behind it all again makes me wonder if super powers came into play. This team and the Pleasanton Weekly truly did its community a tremendous public service."

I'm so proud of this honor from our peers.

In all, we received four Print Division awards (Weeklies, 11,001-25,000 circulation) and eight Digital Division awards (Monthly unique visitors 100,000 and under for all except Coverage of Local Government, which was expanded to 400,000 visitors and under).

Also of note, our former photo intern Daniel Kim earned seven awards, including two first-place wins, for his photography coverage with the Sacramento Bee last year. Former Weekly reporter Julia Brown was honored with second place in Feature Story for work with our sister paper, The Almanac. And locally, the Las Positas College-Express won top honors for 2-year college paper.

Here's the full list of the Weekly's 2020 awards:

First place

Public Service Journalism (Digital): 2020 Tri-Valley candidate forum series - Staff

Second place

Editorial Comment (Print): "Steinle case: A complete miscarriage of justice" - Jeremy Walsh

Breaking News (Digital): "Pleasanton PD officers cleared of criminal charges for man's death after confrontation outside Raley's" - Jeremy Walsh

Third place

Feature Story (Print): "On the road again" - Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Profile Story (Print): "Gretchen's legacy" - Ryan J. Degan

News Photo (Digital): "Dining out in Pleasanton" - Ryan J. Degan

Fourth place

Online General Excellence: PleasantonWeekly.com - Staff

Editorial Comment (Print): "The time for the first community debate on policing in Pleasanton is now" - Jeremy Walsh

Coverage of Youth and Education (Digital): "Danville student settles free-speech lawsuit against SRVUSD, will receive $655,000 and public apology" - Ryan J. Degan

Fifth place

Coverage of Local Government (Digital): "Policing in Pleasanton" series - Julia Baum and Jeremy Walsh. (Lead story here)

Photo Coverage of Protests and Racial Justice (Digital): "Moment of silence (8:46) during Pleasanton march" - Ryan J. Degan

Coverage of Youth and Education (Digital): "Another abrupt superintendent departure for Dublin Unified" - Jeremy Walsh, Riya Chopra and Cierra Bailey. (Lead story here).

Editor's note: Jeremy Walsh has been the editor of the Pleasanton Weekly since February 2017. His "What a Week" column runs on the first and third Fridays of the month.

Comments

Jan Batcheller
Downtown
on May 24, 2021 at 1:51 pm
Jan Batcheller, Downtown
on May 24, 2021 at 1:51 pm

Hearty congratulations to the entire Pleasanton Weekly team. Our town is better because of your work.


Julia Brown
Registered user
another community
on May 24, 2021 at 4:19 pm
Julia Brown, another community
Registered user
on May 24, 2021 at 4:19 pm

Congrats Pleasanton Weekly team! Very well-deserved recognition. Are you sure you don't have super powers? :)
(And thanks for the shoutout, Jeremy.)


keeknlinda
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on May 25, 2021 at 10:46 pm
keeknlinda, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on May 25, 2021 at 10:46 pm

It's good to know your collective talents and extraordinary efforts are recognized by CNPA. The candidate forums are vital to making informed decisions when marking our ballots, and your team's adaptability to the challenges of 2020 was an exceptional effort indeed. Congratulations to each of you and thanks for keeping us informed on what really matters.


Michael Austin
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on May 26, 2021 at 6:59 am
Michael Austin , Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on May 26, 2021 at 6:59 am

Candidate Forums cost money.
Approximately $1500 to produce a forum.

PPIE sponsored the PUSD candidate forum for this last election, after some encouragement.

A lot of people donate to PPIE, many are parents of PUSD students, some donners do not have children in PUSD schools, but wanted a PUSD candidate forum.


Gina Channell, Publisher
Registered user
Downtown
on May 26, 2021 at 7:23 am
Gina Channell, Publisher, Downtown
Registered user
on May 26, 2021 at 7:23 am

@Michael Austin —- I just want to be clear. We did not receive any payment — the forums were a community service. Our partners might have paid for studio time (Livermore mayor and city council and Alameda County District 1 supervisor forums were held in studio), and helped us with marketing, but we were paid nothing.

You are correct, though, that forums are costly. The amount of time Jeremy and I spent was probably equal to $1500 per forum — if not more.

That’s why we rely on members like you. Members pay our salaries. #SupportLocalJournalism Web Link


Michael Austin
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on May 26, 2021 at 7:33 am
Michael Austin , Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on May 26, 2021 at 7:33 am

Gina,

It was not my intent to imply you, the Weekly received payment. I apologize it may have implied that. I know that you and Jeremy volunteer your time and resources, I am very thankful that you do so.


keeknlinda
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on May 26, 2021 at 8:46 pm
keeknlinda, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on May 26, 2021 at 8:46 pm

Aw, Michael, not everything is all about the money. Jeremy and Gina and the whole staff are dedicated to doing their jobs to the highest of standards. And surely it was an auto-correct error that let your comment re: donners slip past, failing to understand people who donate are donors, not donners.
We are indeed a lucky community to have these people in our midst, attending meetings, Zoom of for real, and simply telling it like it is. Just one factor in making us a cut above.


Michael Austin
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on May 27, 2021 at 7:31 am
Michael Austin , Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on May 27, 2021 at 7:31 am

Keeknlind:

During the last campaign a PUSD candidate forum had not been determined. I contacted both parties asked when there would be a PUSD candidate forum. Each party responded that they were waiting for the other party to initiate contact, there was a comment about cost.

I offered to donate one third of the cost and contacted both parties again to initiate conversation. PPIE reached out, Weekly responded and they agreed on a candidate forum.

In appreciation I DONNATED $500 to PPIE.


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