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Review-Journal reporters get top honors in Battle Born contest

Updated October 24, 2022 - 3:51 pm

Two members of the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s investigative team were among the top winners honored Saturday at the Battle Born Journalism Awards, a statewide news competition organized by the Las Vegas chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

The second annual contest was judged by SPJ members in Cincinnati.

“This is a tough contest that recognizes great work in areas of coverage that are of immense importance to the community,” Review-Journal Executive Editor Glenn Cook said. “The RJ’s winning work was heavily focused on accountability and making sure the public was aware of wrongs that needed to be made right.”

Investigative reporter Briana Erickson earned first place in the Human Rights Reporting category for her narrative feature on the survivors of the 2019 Alpine Motel fire, which killed six residents and left dozens homeless in downtown Las Vegas.

“Terrific narrative that focuses on the forgotten people of a deadly fire,” one of the judges wrote. “The writing is so crisp, clear and personal that you can almost smell the smoke and see the flames of the blaze.”

The Review-Journal swept that category, with reporter Katelyn Newberg taking second place and reporter Colton Lochhead earning third place.

Investigative reporter Arthur Kane placed first in the Reporting Using Public Records category for his investigation into Henderson police officers who were kept on the force despite having histories of misconduct.

“This is a comprehensive and shocking look at how Nevada’s second-largest police department failed to maintain proper discipline,” a judge wrote.

Health care reporter Mary Hynes was recognized for her coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, placing first in the Topical Storytelling category. The nominated package included her story about a baby who was born while his mother was on a ventilator.

“From the start of vaccination (and how people couldn’t get an appointment or got around the rules) to the death of a mother whose baby was born through cesarean delivery, to the troubles of long COVID, this package of stories provides comprehensive coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic,” a judge wrote. “The stories are compelling.”

In a web presentation category, the newspaper also took first place for its online preview of the latest megaresort to open on the Las Vegas Strip: Resorts World.

The award went to the RJ’s Tony Morales, Jaroon Chookul, Severiano Del Castillo Galvan, Wes Rand and Rick Velotta.

“This story feels as if it was created with a true digital-first mindset and while there’s a lot of information here, it doesn’t feel overwhelming or confusing,” a judge wrote. “Fantastic work.”

Morales also took third place in the same category.

Newberg, Erickson and former staff writer Rio Lacanlale won second place in Spot News Reporting for the newspaper’s coverage of the 2021 crash involving Henry Ruggs, the now-former Raiders player charged with felonies in the deaths of motorist Tina Tintor and her dog.

Bill Dentzer, the newspaper’s former capital bureau reporter, tied for second for Environmental Justice Reporting. He and Lochhead also took third place for their work at the 2021 legislative session.

UNLV student and current Review-Journal sports intern Alex Wright earned first place in the student journalism category.

“One of the signs of good writing is the ability of the reader to finish a story without stopping and gain a thorough understanding of the topic. That’s what happens with the work of Alex Wright,” a judge wrote. “He finds ways to connect his topics with readers by using strong character development.”

Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com Follow him on Twitter @rickytwrites.

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