Fresno Bee honored for General Excellence, wins 8 first-place awards in statewide contest

A view of the Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls and the valley floor from Glacier Point at Yosemite National Park.
A view of the Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls and the valley floor from Glacier Point at Yosemite National Park. Fresno Bee file

The Fresno Bee received eight first-place awards Saturday in the annual Better Newspapers Contest sponsored by the California Newspaper Publishers Association, including the General Excellence award.

The Fresno Bee swept the top two Investigative Reporting positions in its division, taking first place for a story on Fresno’s blighted housing crisis and second place for a story on how Fresno ignored reports of tainted water in northeast Fresno for so many years.

An additional seven second-place awards were announced for The Bee during the awards luncheon in Santa Monica.

The Bee also had 25 honorable mentions. Altogether, The Bee was nominated in 38 categories.

The Bee competes in the 35,001 to 150,000 circulation category, the most competitive because it has the largest number of newspapers.

“These awards are just more evidence of the talented staff members that we have at The Bee,” Executive Editor Jim Boren said. “They are passionate about their work, dedicated storytellers and committed to serving our readers. The General Excellence honor recognizes the overall quality of our work.”

This year’s Better Newspapers Contest honors work published in 2016.

Here are the categories and The Bee’s work that judges recognized:

First Place

General Excellence: The Fresno Bee staff

Best Investigative Reporting: Fresno slum housing, Andrea Castillo, Barbara Anderson and BoNhia Lee

Profile Feature Story: New Syrian refugees adapt to life in Fresno, Andrea Castillo

Sports Action Photo: Jesse Aitken slams against the bull, Eric Paul Zamora

Best Editorial Comment: Spineless delay in slumlord fight by Fresno City Council, Bill McEwen

Coverage of Education: Local school districts and conflicted advisers, Rory Appleton

Breaking News: Police release body camera videos in Dylan Noble shooting, Rory Appleton

Video Journalism: Apartment family lives with roaches, mice, mold and neglect, Silvia Flores

Luis Decubas, his wife and children live in a southeast Fresno apartment that is infested with roaches and mice. He says he has called his landlord and city government but the conditions persist.

Second Place

Online General Excellence: The Fresno Bee staff

Best Investigative Reporting: Tainted water in Fresno, Tim Sheehan and Marc Benjamin

Artistic Photo: Magical moonbows at Yosemite, Craig Kohlruss

Special Section: Living in Misery: Fresno Slum Housing, Andrea Castillo, Barbara Anderson and BoNhia Lee

Coverage of Business News: Valley hospitals build pediatric networks, Barbara Anderson

Inside Page Layout & Design, Tabloid: Captain America, John Alvin

Best Editorial Cartoon: California Rain, SW Parra

Two Fresno Bee student writers received first place awards for their work published in The Rampage, Fresno City College’s newspaper.

Writing: The Revival of Ruby Red, Ashleigh Panoo

Sports Action Photo: Fight for Water boxing match, Larry Valenzuela

Other McClatchy work

Other McClatchy papers in Central California won honors Saturday:

▪ Merced Sun-Star: First place, Enterprise News Story or Series, Editorial Comment, Breaking News, General Excellence; Second place, Non-Profile Feature Story, Sports Game Story, Coverage of Education, Special Sports Section; one honorable mention

▪ Sierra Star: First place, Sports Feature Story, Sports Feature Photo, Artistic Photo, Online General Excellence; Second place, Environmental Reporting: Drought/Fire, Arts & Entertainment Coverage; eight honorable mentions

▪ Vida en el Valle: Second place, Artistic Photo; one honorable mention

▪ Los Banos Enterprise: First place, Editorial Comment; two honorable mentions