Marin Independent Journal wins 1st place in National Journalism Competition

  • Chrystal Gift hugs her dog in her new tent after being moved from a homeless camp to a nearby city-sanctioned “Service Support Zone” in San Rafael on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. (Sherry LaVars/Marin Independent Log)

  • Sausalito police carry a man in a chair...

    Sausalito police officers carry a man seated in a chair out of the Dunphy Park homeless encampment in Sausalito on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. (Sherry LaVars/Marin Independent Journal)

  • The San Francisco skyline looms behind a man as he...

    The San Francisco skyline looms behind a man as he walks at Fort Baker in Sausalito on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal)

  • A mask hangs from a cardboard cutout of actor Humphrey...

    A mask hangs from a cardboard cutout of actor Humphrey Bogart at Bogie’s Too restaurant on Fourth Street in San Rafael on Friday, July 16, 2021. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal)

  • An albino purple ice tegu lizard sits on its head...

    An albino purple ice tegu lizard sits on the head of Alex Jacobs of Old-School Exotics and Reptiles as he gives a presentation on several different reptiles at Drake Terrace Senior Living in San Rafael on Tuesday, August 17, 2021. ( Alan Dep/ Marin’s Independent Journal)

  • A man fends off the wind and rain by walking...

    A man weathers the wind and rain as he walks along Second Street in Sausalito on Monday, Dec. 13, 2021. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal)

The Marin Independent Journal has won first place in the California News Publishers Association’s annual journalism competition.

The IJ won the General Daily Excellence Award in its circulation category. The prize was for consecutive editions on February 18 and 19, 2021.

The last time the newspaper won the top prize for overall quality of newspaper content and design was in 2009.

“I’m incredibly proud of our editors, reporters, photographers, columnists, our cartoonist – the whole organization – for being recognized,” said Rob Devincenzi, president and publisher of the Independent Journal. “Our team has worked tirelessly through the uncertainty of the pandemic and remained focused on the local stories that matter. I am grateful for the recognition of our efforts to provide in-depth coverage of Marin County each day.

The association announced the results on Friday. The competition was for work published in 2021. Competition judges reviewed more than 2,800 entries from print, digital and campus publications.

The Independent Journal won 22 additional awards, including first place for breaking news, local government coverage, coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, features and editorial cartoons; and second place for Photography and Editorial Drawings.

Specifically, journalist Will Houston won first place for reporting on the January 6 riot at the United States Capitol. Houston also earned a fifth-place finish for reporting on the historic 1976-77 drought.

Associate Editor Gary Klien won fifth place in the breaking news category for coverage of the historic late October storm that dropped more than a foot of rain on the county.

In the local government coverage category, journalist Natalie Hanson won first place for a series of articles examining Marin’s homelessness issues. Hanson also won a top prize for a look at how San Quentin News staff covered the COVID-19 pandemic while the prison was on lockdown.

Journalist Richard Halstead won fifth place in the local government category for an article about unconscious bias testing among county employees.

Jeff Burkhart’s “Barfly” column won first place for observations behind Marin’s bar.

George Russell swept the editorial cartoon category, taking home awards from first to fifth place for his work on issues such as drought, the pandemic and state laws affecting cyclists.

  • George Russell - Special for Marin Independent Journal

    George Russell – Special for Marin Independent Journal

  • George Russell - Special for Marin Independent Journal

    George Russell – Special for Marin Independent Journal

  • George Russell - Special for Marin Independent Journal

    George Russell – Special for Marin Independent Journal

  • George Russell - Special for Marin Independent Journal

    George Russell – Special for Marin Independent Journal

Lifestyles editor Vicki Larson won third place for a profile about a playwright who crafted a production about her husband’s work as a pandemic virologist. The Larson Arts and Entertainment Local was honored with a fifth place finish.

Political columnist Dick Spotswood took third place, while music columnist Paul Liberatore won a fourth writing award for an article about how Marin’s music scene has been affected by the pandemic.

The IJ photo team received six awards. Photographer Sherry LaVars won second and third prizes for her coverage of homeless camps run by the city of Marin. Photo editor Alan Dep won second, fourth and fifth prizes in the feature film category and a third prize for fine art photography.

“IJ’s newsroom staff continue to raise the bar,” said Jennifer Upshaw Swartz, editor. “Bringing home the top award for the first time in 13 years and seeing our journalists honored in almost every category affirms our continued commitment to covering local news first and foremost. I am incredibly proud of this extremely talented group of journalists.

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