The Sacramento Bee’s reporting on immigrants, nursing homes and former UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi has been recognized in recent weeks with regional and corporate newspaper awards.
“No Safe Place,” a package of stories on Afghan immigrants in Sacramento by Stephen Magagnini, Renée C. Byer and Jessica Koscielniak won first place in the 2017 Best of the West journalism contest’s immigration and border reporting category.
“ ‘No Safe Place’ by the Sacramento Bee, started as a bicycle fatality. A man was hit by a car on a busy street, the kind of accident that often lands on 3B,” wrote Heather Urquides, former city editor of the Tampa Bay Times and a judge for Best of the West.
“Old-fashioned shoe leather reporting turned it into something much more. The Bee revealed an immigration crisis that had been flying under the radar until the newspaper shined its light. A community of Afghan refugees was struggling to resettle in America after being persecuted in their homeland for service to the Americans during the war.”
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The judge said The Bee’s multimedia investigation revealed “a flawed, disorganized resettlement system that was failing the new refugees at nearly every turn.” The stories led to an outpouring of public support and a federal investigation into the resettlement process.
A story by The Bee’s Marjie Lundstrom and Phillip Reese, “Shifting population in California nursing homes creates ‘dangerous mix,’ ” received third-place honors in Best of the West’s business and financial reporting category.
While skilled nursing facilities once served primarily the frail and elderly, a growing proportion of nursing home residents are younger, more able-bodied patients, many of whom have been diagnosed with mental illness, Lundstrom and Reese found. Some have long-standing drug and alcohol problems, histories of homelessness or are newly released from prison.
“Reporters in the other 49 states should immediately do this story,” wrote judge Kevin Hardy, business reporter with The Des Moines Register. “What an important problem to highlight, and one that will likely only get worse in the coming years.”
The Best of the West contest began in 1988 and draws about 1,000 entries each year from journalists in the 14 states from the Rockies west to Alaska and Hawaii. It is administered by First Amendment Funding Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation.
The Society of American Business Editors and Writers, a national nonprofit journalism organization, also recently named Lundstrom and Reese’s nursing home story as a top prize winner in its 2016 Best in Business contest. The story won in the health journalism category among midsized media outfits.
The Bee’s investigation of UC Davis Chancellor Katehi by reporters Diana Lambert and Sam Stanton was one of 11 McClatchy President’s Award winners. The awards by The Bee’s parent company, headquartered in Sacramento, recognize journalists who “uncovered corruption in local government, held leaders and institutions accountable, and told human stories in compelling and original ways,” according to a news release announcing the winners.
“In work the judges called ‘impressive,’ ‘important’ and ‘on mission,’ Lambert and Stanton delivered revelation after revelation about the chancellor of the University of California, Davis – including that she had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in public funds to bolster her reputation and scrub the internet of negative references to her. The work prompted student protests, legislative hearings and, ultimately, an investigation by the president of the University of California that cost the chancellor her job,” the announcement said.
Judge’s for this year’s President’s Awards competition were Richard Just, former editor of Newsweek, The New Republic and National Journal and soon-to-be editor of The Washington Post’s Sunday magazine; Kristin Roberts, executive editor of McClatchy Washington and a veteran of Politico, National Journal and Reuters; and Tim Grieve, McClatchy’s vice president for news.