Sacramento Bee captures two first-place, four second-place awards in state contest

The Sacramento Bee received two first-place and four second-place awards Saturday in the California Newspaper Publishers Association’s annual Better Newspapers Contest for work produced in 2016.

The special section, “No Safe Place,” by Bee reporter Stephen Magagnini, Bee photographer Renée C. Byer and McClatchy Co. videographer Jessica Koscielniak, took first place for the category. The section chronicled the story of Afghans who risked their lives to work alongside U.S. troops during the war on terror in Afghanistan, only to resettle into a life of hardship in Sacramento.

Separately, Byer won first place and honorable mention awards for the online photo story/essay category for her work on the Afghan project. Koscielniak received an honorable mention for video journalism.

Reporter Cynthia Hubert scored two second-place awards – in the writing and profile feature story categories. The first honor was given to her work on the recovery of Cobb Mountain, an area in Lake County that had been devastated by wildfire. Bee photographer Paul Kitagaki Jr. won an honorable mention for video journalism for his work on the Cobb project. Hubert’s other second-place award was for her investigation into the death of Mike Lehmkuhl and how California’s mental health system failed one family.

The Bee also landed a second-place honor for the environmental reporting: drought/fire category, which was awarded to reporters Dale Kasler, Ryan Sabalow and Phillip Reese. In addition, the newspaper staff received a second-place award in the front page broadsheet category.

The paper also took home 11 honorable mention awards, including for investigative reporting, environmental reporting, editorial content, coverage of local government, feature photo, online photo story/essay, artistic photo, video journalism, general excellence and informational graphic.

The investigative reporting award went to reporters Diana Lambert and Sam Stanton for their coverage of UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, who eventually resigned her post due to questions raised from The Bee’s coverage. The stories revealed that Katehi had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in public funds to scrub the internet of negative references to her following the campus pepper-spray incident in 2011.

Reporter Ryan Lillis received an honorable mention in environmental reporting for his story about the dangerous levels of lead found near a city-owned gun range. Deputy Editorial Page Editor Shawn Hubler received an honorable mention for the editorial, “California to Trump: America can’t afford for us to fail.”

Reporters Anita Chabria, Phillip Reese and Hubert garnered an honorable mention for their coverage of Sacramento’s police shootings. Former Bee photographer Andrew Seng was awarded an honorable mention in feature photography for illustrating the election win for Proposition 64.

Bee photographer Randall Benton obtained an honorable mention for artistic photography for a photo with the caption, “SETI researchers monitor the heavens with a field of radio telescopes at the Allen Telescope Array at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory in Hat Creek Northern California.” Nathaniel Levine, director of graphics, received an honorable mention for his depiction of the new Golden 1 Center.

Richard Chang: 916-321-1018, @RichardYChang

Related stories from Sacramento Bee