News - April 20, 2011

Almanac wins seven awards in state-wide CNPA contest

The Almanac won seven awards in the state-wide Better Newspaper Contest, sponsored by the California Newspaper Publishers Association, it was announced Saturday.

The Almanac won first-place awards for public service, editorial comment, and news photo, and second-place awards for editorial pages, news photo, photo essay, and environmental reporting.

Staff photographer Michelle Le won both first- and second-place awards in the general news photo category.

Public service

The public-service award was given for News Editor Renee Batti's cover story on March 17, 2010, "Who is prospering from Prop 13?"

The article detailed the efforts of Menlo Park resident Jennifer Bestor, whose intensive research and review of parcel assessment rolls illustrated that the property tax burden since the 1978 passage of state Proposition 13 has shifted dramatically to homeowners, creating a windfall for commercial businesses.

While Ms. Bestor deserves much credit for her extensive and meticulous research, the Almanac devoted many hours to fact-checking Ms. Bestor's figures and conclusions, adding pertinent information and context, and creating a narrative to bring the issue home.

Reaction to the article was huge, and the Almanac received more comments about it than perhaps any other story during the year. It created a healthy — and rare — dialogue about the tax measure, and people began to see that a discussion of Proposition 13 reform could go beyond the hysteria of whether grandma would lose her home.

Other awards

The first-place editorial comment award was for an editorial by editor and publisher Tom Gibboney, "Managing the Atherton news," published Jan. 6, 2010. The editorial was critical of the Atherton City Council for failing to inform the public that it had agreed to an embarrassing $230,000 settlement with an employee who sued the town for sexual harassment and disability discrimination.

Photographer Michelle Le won first place in the general news photo category for her photograph of the Dalai Lama's visit with Menlo Park and East Palo Alto students in October 2010.

Ms. Le also won the second-place award in the category for a December 2009 photo of a vigil for Lisa Xavier, a 6-year-old girl who was killed in a hit-and-run car accident at the intersection of Willow Road and Bayfront Expressway in Menlo Park.

In the photo essay category, Ms. Le won a second-place award for a September 2010 photo spread on Jeffrey Adair returning to the stage. The well-known owner of J Flora Art was a professional dancer and singer before he opened the florist business about 20 years ago.

Reporter Dave Boyce won a second-place award in the environmental or agricultural resource reporting category for a March 10, 2010, cover story, on "Gardening (to eat) at school." The story was about Sacred Heart Preparatory students tending a large organic garden as well as chickens and goats on the campus. The fruits, vegetables and eggs provide ingredients for breakfast and lunch at the school.

Editor Tom Gibboney won a second-place award for editorial pages, published Aug. 11 and Aug. 25, 2010. The pages contained two editorials. "Wake-up call on high-speed rail" discussed the decision not to use tunnels for high-speed trains crossing Menlo Park and Atherton. "Why delay in reporting pool gas leak?" was critical of the delay in announcing a potentially dangerous gas leak at the Menlo Park pool.

Former Almanac reporter Sean Howell won a certificate of achievement in the environmental or agricultural resource reporting category for two stories in the Nov. 4, 2009, issue about the growing number of local people raising chickens at home.


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