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RJ takes state’s top newspaper, website, journalist honors

The Las Vegas Review-Journal was named the state’s best newspaper and best news website and won top individual honors at the Nevada Press Foundation Awards of Excellence dinner Saturday night in Reno.

The Review-Journal’s honors included outstanding journalist, outstanding visual journalist and outstanding graphic designer, and first-place wins for investigative story, business spot news story, entertainment feature and news story, editorial writing, best special event and best video program or series for the weekday streaming newscast “7@7.”

The newspaper, its sister publications and the quarterly rjmagazine collected more than 70 awards in total for journalism and advertising produced between April 1, 2020, and March 31. The contest is presented annually by the Nevada Press Association. This year it was judged by members of the Montana Newspaper Association.

“We’re grateful the contest judges rewarded the Review-Journal’s exceptional staff for its important, impactful work,” Executive Editor Glenn Cook said.

The Review-Journal won 43 total awards, including 20 first-place finishes. Rjmagazine was recognized nine times.

The Boulder City Review, which was named best newspaper in the rural category, also won nine awards.

The Pahrump Valley Times, which was named best news website in the rural category, took home 10 awards. And the Tonopah Times-Bonanza was recognized three times.

Top journalists

Review-Journal reporter Rio Lacanlale, who was awarded journalist of merit last year, was named the state’s Outstanding Journalist for a portfolio of work that revisited the story of Charles Bush, a 39-year-old Black man choked to death by Las Vegas police in 1990, and detailed the Metropolitan Police Department’s decision to not increase the death toll in the Las Vegas mass shooting after two victims died more than two years after the Route 91 Harvest festival massacre killed 58.

The day Lacanlale’s story was published, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo announced the shooting’s official death toll would increase to 60.

Lacanlale also reported on a crash that killed five cyclists on a stretch of highway near Searchlight when a box truck plowed into the group, and she told the account of an 11-hour crime spree spanning two states that Clark County’s district attorney described as “a Bonnie and Clyde situation.”

“What tipped the balance in Rio Lacanlale’s favor was the extent she was willing to go to in order to get the full story,” the judges wrote. Of her reporting on the delayed deaths of Las Vegas shooting victims, the judges wrote: “In terms of service to our industry, to continue following a story — not beating it to death but bringing out new facets of importance to the social structure we work within — three years is pretty amazing.”

Photographer Benjamin Hager was named Outstanding Visual Journalist for a body of work that included portraits of Las Vegas Strip entertainers.

Hager, who was recognized a total of seven times, also took home first-place awards for best sports photo and photo essay or gallery.

Judges said Hager was “the stand-out in a category with a lot of great entries and tough competition. The deciding factors included creativity, angles and visual elements brought to the photos while demonstrating the range of the photographer from arts to hard news to community coverage.”

Tony Morales won outstanding graphic designer for a portfolio that included special presentations on the opening of Allegiant Stadium and Circa in downtown Las Vegas.

“The engaging digital elements are what set this entry apart in a field of superb work. Field of Dreams graphic used video, photos, infographics and, of course, words to present a crisp informative visual,” the judges wrote.

More first-place recognition

Reporter Art Kane produced the best investigative story, chronicling how child protection workers had failed a 13-year-old boy despite documenting his family troubles for a decade. The boy, Aaron Jones, was found dead under rocks in the desert, and his father and stepmother were indicted on suspicion of murder after allegations of horrific abuse.

Kane’s story also highlighted that dozens of child deaths in Clark County over a seven-year period might have been prevented by child protection workers.

“Excellent investigative use of public and leaked confidential records to tell the larger story of bureaucratic incompetence and inadequate laws,” the judges wrote.

Reporter Subrina Hudson was awarded best business spot news story for detailing Nevada gig workers’ frustration with unemployment system notifications. Her story examined the rocky rollout for the state’s new webpage that allowed gig workers, contractors and the self-employed to access the unemployment benefit system.

Reporter Christopher Lawrence received the award for best entertainment news story for his piece that detailed how casinos did not have standard protocol for checking the temperatures of their customers to guard against the spread of the coronavirus.

Lawrence also won the award for best entertainment feature story for a series detailing 100 acts of kindness made by Las Vegans during the pandemic. Some of the material was based on reporting throughout the year by multiple Review-Journal reporters including Janna Karel, Madelon Hynes and Jason Bracelin.

Editorial page editor John Kerr won first place for editorial writing, and the Review-Journal’s editorial page was named the best in the state.

“No-holds-barred writing on topics of local interest made this tops for the category,” the judges wrote of Kerr’s editorials. “The editorials were the kind that demand readership from those who agree and disagree.”

The Review-Journal also won first place for overall design and its special section on the completion of Allegiant Stadium.


The Review-Journal’s new weekday streaming newscast, “7@7,” was recognized as the best video program or series. The seven-minute program, which drops at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., was launched this year by Jim Prather, the Review-Journal’s executive director of programming, and the Review-Journal’s video team: Renee Summerour, Jenn Auh, Cassie Soto, James Schaeffer, Le’Andre Fox, Heidi Fang, Larry Mir, Janet Murphy, Paul Pearson, Nathan Asselin, Angus Kelly, Michael Quine, Kelsey Kendall, Neb Solomon and Elliot Bauman.

“Looks like a major studio TV broadcast,” the contest judges said of the program.

Advertising awards

Chase Rankin, the Review-Journal’s senior vice president for sales and marketing, won best advertising innovation for “7@7” sponsorships, and Tony Morales collected first place for color print ad for a “7@7” promotion. Angie Gutting won best in-house advertising for New Homes Guide.

Marketing Director Wanda Blair, Event Marketing Director Melissa McCabe and Rankin won best special event for a virtual food and cocktail series.

“This is a truly great idea: Asking local chefs and restaurateurs to prepare authentic meals and teach.

It combines the love of food, love of cooking, authentic tastes with experts. This is a great format during the pandemic and a way to reinvent community,” the judges wrote.

Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272.

List of Winners

First Place Winners:

Outstanding Journalist: Rio Lacanlale

Outstanding Visual Journalist: Benjamin Hager

Outstanding Graphic Designer: Tony Morales

Advertising Innovation: Chase Rankin – 7@7, 7-Minute Newscast

Business Spot News Story: Subrina HudsonNevada’s gig worker unemployment-filing site has bumpy start

Color Print Ad: Tony Morales – Las Vegas Review-Journal – 7@7 Spadea

Editorial Page: John Kerr – Las Vegas Review-Journal

Editorial Writing: John Kerr – Las Vegas Review-Journal

Entertainment Feature Story: Las Vegas Review-Journal – 100 acts of kindness: Southern Nevada stepped up to help

Entertainment News Story: Christopher Lawrence – Las Vegas Review-Journal – Casinos have no standard protocol for temperature checks

Feature Photo: Rachel Aston – rjmagazine – Kiss at Gold Strike Hot Springs

General Excellence: Las Vegas Review-Journal

General Online Excellence: Las Vegas Review-Journal

General Online Excellence: rjmagazine

In-House Advertising: Angie Gutting – Las Vegas Review-Journal – New Homes Guide Media Kit

Investigative Story: Art Kane – Las Vegas Review-Journal – Aaron Jones: ‘Recipe for disaster’

Multiple Photo Essay or Gallery: Benjamin Hager – Las Vegas Review-Journal – Scintillating Sin City Performers

Non-Staff Story: John M. Glionna – rjmagazine – One in 10 million

Overall Design: Las Vegas Review-Journal

Special Event: Wanda Blair, Melissa McCabe, Chase Rankin – Las Vegas Review-Journal – Virtual Food and Cocktail Series

Special Section (Editorial): Las Vegas Review-Journal – Allegiant Stadium

Sports Photo: Benjamin Hager – Las Vegas Review-Journal – Acrobatic catch at Arrowhead Stadium

Video Program or Series: Las Vegas Review-Journal – 7@7 Daily News Show

Second Place Winners:

Color Print Ad: David Sly – Las Vegas Review-Journal – Vegas Nation Magazine Ad

Digital Ad: Malachi Schlink, David Memmott – Las Vegas Review-Journal – Kroil

Explanatory Journalism: Gary Martin – Las Vegas Review-Journal – West Virginia shows Nevada, other states, the way on COVID vaccines

Feature Photo: Benjamin Hager – Las Vegas Review-Journal – Siberian Huskies on the run

Feature Photo: Rachel Aston – rjmagazine – In sickness and in health

Freedom of the Press: Michael Scott Davidson, Arthur Kane, Review-Journal Editorial Board – Las Vegas Review-Journal

Headline Writing: Rhonda Prast – Las Vegas Review-Journal

In-House Advertising: Olivia Kuntz, Malachi Schlink – Las Vegas Review-Journal – Aging Wellness

Investigative Story: Art Kane, Rachel Crosby, Michael Scott Davidson – Las Vegas Review-Journal – Alpine Fire

Local Sports Column: Ed Graney – Las Vegas Review-Journal

Non-Staff Story: John M. Glionna – rjmagazine – A twist of fate: Cirque performers

Page One Design/Cover Design: Mark Antonuccio – rjmagazine

Page One Design/Cover Design: LeeAnn Elias – Las Vegas Review-Journal

Portrait: Benjamin Hager – A Twist of Fate

Third Place Winners:

Color Print Ad: Jorge Betancourt, David Sly, Malachi Schlink – Las Vegas Review-Journal – Air Supply Magazine Ad

Editorial Writing: Victor Joecks – Las Vegas Review-Journal

Entertainment Feature Story: Christopher Lawrence – Las Vegas Review-Journal – Looking back at ‘Casino’

Entertainment News Story: Heidi Knapp Rinella, Al Mancini – Las Vegas Review-Journal – Restaurants reopen, find no rush for new normal in Las Vegas

Feature Writing: Janna Karel – rjmagazine – Paddler’s paradise … Black Canyon

General Excellence: rjmagazine

Headline Writing: Brian Sandford – Las Vegas Review-Journal

In-House Advertising: Las Vegas Review-Journal – Golden Knights Season Preview Section Ad

Local Column: Mick Akers – Las Vegas Review-Journal – Road Warrior

News Photo Coverage: Benjamin Hager, L.E. Baskow, Chase Stevens – Las Vegas Review-Journal – Lonely Las Vegas Strip

Non-Staff Story: John M. Glionna – rjmagazine – Escaramuza riders preserve piece of rural Latino culture

Special Event: Melissa McCabe, Wanda Blair, Chase Rankin – Las Vegas Review-Journal – Academic Excellence Awards

Sports Feature Writing: Sam Gordon – Las Vegas Review-Journal – Cutmen embrace adjustment to Top Rank bubble at MGM Grand

Sports Photo: Benjamin Hager – Las Vegas Review-Journal – Raiders clear opening hurdle

Video Program or Series: Las Vegas Review-Journal – Vegas Nation Gameday

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