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RJ wins 9 Best of the West awards

The Las Vegas Review-Journal captured nine total awards in the annual Best of the West contest, including first-place honors for breaking news reporting, growth and environment reporting and headline writing.

The contest recognized the best journalism produced in 2019 by newsrooms stretching from Texas to the Pacific Ocean. The nine awards were tied with The Dallas Morning News for second-most among Western media organizations. The Seattle Times won 10.

“The Best of the West contest is incredibly competitive,” Review-Journal Executive Editor Glenn Cook said. “It’s open to every newsroom in the region, from rural community weeklies to radio stations, magazines, web-only news sites and metropolitan newspapers. Being recognized by the judges against so much great work is a testament to the talent and dedication of the Review-Journal’s reporters, editors and visual journalists.”

The Water Question, a 10-part staff investigation on how long the Colorado River can sustain the Las Vegas Valley’s water needs, captured the top honor in the growth and environment category.

“The Las Vegas Review-Journal tackles a complex and crucial topic and produces understandable, digestible, interesting explanatory journalism,” the judge wrote.

Staff reporting on the Alpine Motel Apartments fire, which killed six and injured 13 in December, won for breaking news.

“Great accountability journalism,” the judge wrote. “I appreciate the timeline of events and the urgency.”

Assistant Features Editor George Riggle won both first and third place in the headline writing category.

“(The) headline writer obviously had fun, to the benefit of the reader,” the judge wrote. “The heads are clever, clear and easy to understand at a glance.”

Assistant City Editor Mike Brunker won third place in arts and entertainment writing for his profile of Spittin’ Jerry, the pinball wizard.

“Totally bizarre story,” the judge wrote. “I love that even by the end, I wasn’t sure if any of it was true. Loved the ride.”

Reporter Michael Scott Davidson took second place in the business and financial reporting for his investigation into Las Vegas Valley evictions.

“An excellent job of digging into real estate records and turning that tedium into a compelling and important story,” the judge wrote.

Photographers Benjamin Hager and L.E. Baskow took second and third place, respectively, in the features slideshow category for Hager’s Black History Month portraits and Baskow’s photos of the Seven Magic Mountains art installation.

“The series went beyond the cliche and was forward-looking,” the judge said of Hager’s work.

“The photographer’s vision and hard work paid off to elevate what could have been routine,” the judge wrote for Baskow’s entry. “Each image was like eye candy, leaving the viewer wanting more.”

LeeAnn Elias, Severiano del Castillo Galvan and Wes Rand captured third place in page design for one part of The Water Question package.

“The Review-Journal’s takeout on the importance of the Colorado River to the valley’s future is an interesting pairing of an artistic lead image and a unique play on an infographic,” the judge wrote.

Contact Rory Appleton at rappleton@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0276. Follow @RoryDoesPhonics on Twitter.

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