Merced Sun-Star wins two first-place journalism awards

The Merced Sun-Star won two first-place awards Saturday in its circulation category in an annual competition sponsored by the California Newspaper Publishers Association.

Reporter Ramona Giwargis’ “Ambulance service is scrutinized” took first place in the Local Government Coverage category, and photographer Bea Ahbeck-Casson‘s “Day at the Rodeo” captured first place in the Sports Photo category.

The annual journalism contest honors the best print news reporting and photography in California. Newspapers are judged against one another based on circulation.

“I’m very proud of the Sun-Star staff and all the fine work they’ve done – and continue to do,” said David W. Hill, the Sun-Star’s managing editor. “They have demonstrated the versatility and flexibility to deal with all the changes our industry has seen while delivering an award-winning product.”

The Sun-Star also received two second-place awards. Reporters Shawn Jansen and Sean Lynch scored second place for best Special Sports Section for “Tribute to Tradition: 2013 High School Football Preview.”

Reporter Rob Parsons received second place in the Investigative Reporting category for a story titled “Pipeline report furor brews.”

The Merced Sun-Star staff also took home three Blue Ribbon certificates: Giwargis, Best Investigative Reporting category; Ahbeck-Casson, one each in the Artistic Photo and Feature Photo categories.

“The challenge going forward is to build on the great work they’ve done this year, giving readers even more in the coming months,” Hill said. “It’s a challenge I know we’ll meet.”

Other McClatchy Co. newspaper winners included:

Modesto Bee: First for editorial comment, second in General Excellence category, second for graphic artist Laurie McAdam’s illustration of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick that graced the cover of a February 2013 Super Bowl preview section. Bee reporter J.N. Sbranti was honored for her coverage of the Stanislaus County Courthouse site selection process.

Los Banos Enterprise: First for Photo Essay, second for Editorial Cartoon and for General Excellence.

Fresno Bee: First for General Excellence, Arts and Entertainment Coverage, Environmental and Agricultural Reporting and Sports Story and Photo. Second for the sports section, Coverage of Education, Feature Story and Feature Photo.

Vida en el Valle: First for Best Front Page and for Page Layout and Design.

Sierra Star: First for Breaking News.