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Review-Journal takes most total awards in Best of the West contest

The Las Vegas Review-Journal won 13 awards in the Best of the West journalism contest, more than any other news organization.

The Review-Journal won four first-place awards, which tied for second-most in the prestigious competition, five second-place awards and four third-place honors. The Dallas Morning News had five first-place awards and eight total awards in this year’s contest, which recognized the best work of 2018 from media outlets in 14 western states, including Alaska and Hawaii.

This year’s contest marks the Review-Journal’s best-ever showing and the first time it has led all news organizations in total awards.

“The Best of the West contest is highly regarded because it is so competitive,” Review-Journal Executive Editor Glenn Cook said. “Unlike most journalism contests, which have separate awards for different media categories — large newspapers, small newspapers, websites, magazines, radio stations — the Best of the West makes all outlets in the region compete against each other.

“That the Review-Journal was the most-honored news organization in this year’s contest — beating outlets in much larger markets from Texas to California — is a testament to the talented staff we’ve assembled and the terrific work they do every day,” Cook said. “Thanks to the contest and the judges for their recognition.”

Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney won first place in special topic column writing, and entertainment columnist John Katsilometes won third place in the category.

“The category was to be judged on descriptive power, originality, reader impact and expertise in the subject; I found these columns to hit on all those marks,” judge Kathy Lakowsky of the South Florida Sun Sentinel said of Graney’s columns.

Cartoonist Michael Ramirez won first place in editorial cartooning for a portfolio of his work.

“Superior artistry, clear and provocative points of view. Powerful satire. … I find him not only one of the Best of the West but one of the best of the country as well,” judge Kevin Siers, editorial cartoonist for the Charlotte Observer, said of Ramirez.

The Review-Journal won first, second and third place in headline writing.

First and second place for headline writing went to Assistant Features Editor George Riggle for a portfolio of headlines that included “Ulterior automotive: From rhinos to swans to aliens, Art Car Festival draws distinctive rides,” and “The old college … sigh: McCarthy’s ‘Life of the Party’ more bewildering than funny.”

“Bravo! A wonderful collection of eye-grabbing, compelling, catchy headlines,” wrote judge Joyce Bassett, executive news editor of the Times-Union in Albany, New York.

Third place in headline writing went to Review-Journal Assistant News Editor Paul Pearson.

First place for business and financial reporting went to former Review-Journal staff writer Brian Joseph for an investigation into the lack of safeguards in Nevada to prevent scammers from filing fake documents to defraud businesses.

“This is incredibly well done,” judge Robert Barba, deputy spot news editor at The Wall Street Journal, wrote. “How we protect our identity in the digital age is such fertile ground and this story shines a bright light on the need for better safeguards.”

Reporter Henry Brean won second place in short form feature writing for a story on the lack of apostrophes in federal signage, and White House Correspondent Debra J. Saunders took third place for a story on pregnancies in the White House press corps.

“Brean’s article about the lack of apostrophes on federal signage is quite a scoop and appeals to my editor’s heart,” wrote judge Maren Longbella, digital features editor at the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

“Who knew political reporters planned pregnancies according to election cycles? Fascinating,” Longbella said of Saunders’ story.

Anita Hassan won second place in long form feature writing for “The Things They Lost,” a story about items left behind during the Oct. 1 mass shooting in 2017 and the efforts to reunite them with their owners.

“A riveting read from beginning to end about a little-known aspect of mass shootings today,” wrote judge Stephanie Farr, Philadelphia Inquirer staff feature writer. “The writing is captivating and moves quickly with vivid details and nice context.”

Assistant Managing Editor for Visuals Nathan Estep and staff photographer Benjamin Hager won second place in page design for a special section featuring photos and short profiles of survivors of the Oct. 1 mass shooting and the tattoos they got to memorialize the 2017 tragedy.

Hager also won third place in feature photography for a photo of a 6-year-old girl learning to swim.

Staffers Mark Antonuccio, Severiano del Castillo Galvan and Wes Rand won second place in informational graphics for a front-page graphic about the 264 people killed in Las Vegas in 2017.

“This visualization gives the reader a clear understanding of the year — I particularly found the use of a variety of individuals including children makes it especially heartbreaking,” wrote judge Emma Patti Harris, assistant managing editor for visuals at Education Week.

Proceeds from the contest provide grants to organizations that provide free or low-cost legal advice to journalists.

Contact Max Michor at mmichor@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0365. Follow @MaxMichor on Twitter.

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