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RJ wins general excellence in annual state press awards

The Las Vegas Review-Journal captured 36 individual and staff first-place awards Saturday during the Nevada Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest, including the top awards for general excellence, general online excellence, outstanding journalist and outstanding visual journalist.

The Review-Journal secured 84 top-three finishes in the urban daily category. The Pahrump Valley Times and Boulder City Review, the Review-Journal’s sister publications, also won the general excellence category in the intermediate and community newspaper categories, respectively. Pahrump also won for online general excellence.

In all, contest judges recognized the Review-Journal and its sister publications more than 100 times for journalism produced between April 1, 2018, and March 31.

“The results of this year’s NPA contest are recognition of the caliber of work produced by Review-Journal journalists week in, week out all year long,” Review-Journal Executive Editor Glenn Cook said. “We are especially gratified by being honored for best website and best newspaper, and by winning the Community Service and Freedom of the Press awards, which recognize our core missions of serving the public and defending the First Amendment.”

Reporter Henry Brean was named outstanding journalist for 2018. His coverage of the drought and overuse plaguing the Colorado River, Southern Nevada’s primary water source, won story of the year. Brean has since moved to his hometown paper, the Arizona Daily Star, in Tucson.

“If this reporting and digital presentation doesn’t prove just how existential water is to Las Vegas, as well as Nevada, I don’t know what will,” a judge said of Brean’s reporting.

Reporter Rachel Crosby, the outstanding journalist for 2017, received two awards: best investigative story for uncovering radio communication problems that hindered police during the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting and a shared breaking news story award with reporter Briana Erickson for their coverage of the release of body camera footage from the night of the Oct. 1 massacre.

“Holding government accountable is a foundation of great investigative reporting, and this certainly raised serious questions,” a judge said of Crosby’s radio story.

The Review-Journal staff’s ongoing, yearlong coverage of the Oct. 1 attack won best community service, and print coverage of the one-year anniversary won best special section.

“There are a lot of ways to cover the anniversary of a tragedy, but the Review-Journal’s decision to anchor the Route 91 anniversary coverage with a visually striking and thought-provoking spread of people’s tattoos commemorating the event shows true vision,” a judge said of the Indelibly Inked special print section.

The newspaper also secured another Freedom of the Press award for its willingness to fight government bodies and institutions for public records.

On the visuals side, Review-Journal photographer and videographer Rachel Aston won for best digital sports storytelling and was named outstanding visual journalist.

“Engaging videos that give an intimate look at a wide variety of subjects with humanity as the common thread,” a judge said of Aston’s work.

Staff photographer Benjamin Hager won best illustrated photo, portrait and digital news feature storytelling.

The Review-Journal’s sports section took home first-place awards in the sports column, sports spot news, sports photography and several video categories.

On the opinion side, the Review-Journal captured best editorial page, and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Ramirez won best editorial cartoon.

Review-Journal movie and TV writer Christopher Lawrence won for best entertainment writing, while music and entertainment reporter Jason Bracelin won for best critical writing.

“Jason Bracelin’s attention to detail is as remarkable as his knowledge of his subject matter,” one judge said.

Bracelin, Aston, Hager and Erickson shared the best digital news feature storytelling award for their online presentation of Oct. 1 survivors’ tattoos.

The Review-Journal’s design team took home top awards in overall design, graphic design and Page One design. And Assistant News Editor Elaine Anderson took first place for best print ad for “Connected to the Heart of Our Community,” a tribute built from the newspaper’s print headlines covering the Oct. 1 shooting.

The Review-Journal’s advertising department captured four first-place finishes. David Sly and Jorge Betancourt won for best ad series, and Sly, Angie Gutting, Angela Johnson and Oscar Crespin won for best niche magazine.

Melissa McCabe and Wanda Blair of the Review-Journal’s marketing department won best special event for the 2018 AgeWell Expo.

The paper’s sister publications, which include the Boulder City Review, Luxury Las Vegas, the Pahrump Valley Times and the Tonopah Times-Bonanza, received 71 awards in all Saturday night.

The contest was judged by the Arizona Newspapers Association.

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

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