Updated April 5, 2023 - 9:25 am
The Las Vegas Review-Journal received recognition from two national journalism organizations recently, one for its efforts to prevent the search of slain reporter Jeff German’s personal electronic devices, and another for the German legal fight as well as the paper’s expanded outreach to the Hispanic community.
Investigative Reporters and Editors on Monday announced the results of its 2022 national contest, and the Review-Journal received a special citation for its efforts to protect the sources of German, the Review-Journal investigative reporter who was murdered in September 2022.
IRE is a national organization that helps journalists across the country learn how to improve their investigative reporting skills. Each year IRE gives awards to reflect the “undeniable tenacity of journalists working day in and day out to hold powerful people and systems accountable,” said Barbara Rodriguez, chair of the IRE Awards contest committee, in the award announcement.
Protecting source information
After German was slain in September, the Review-Journal’s management and staff took legal action to stop the Metropolitan Police Department from searching German’s personal devices, which could reveal confidential sources and put them at risk of retaliation. Under Nevada’s reporter shield law, journalists and news gatherers are protected from revealing sources who agree to share information under the condition of anonymity.
Former Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles, who had been investigated by German, is charged with killing the reporter.
The IRE judges commented that through ongoing court battles, the Review-Journal has “valiantly” argued that the information on German’s devices is protected under Nevada’s shield law, as well as the First Amendment and the state constitution. Those efforts to protect press freedom have “ramifications beyond their newsroom,” the judges wrote in their comments.
“Everyone at the Review-Journal is grateful that our peers around the country recognize Jeff German’s courage and understand the importance of our legal fight to protect his confidential sources,” Executive Editor Glenn Cook said. “It goes beyond Nevada journalism. It has implications for press freedoms everywhere.”
Hispanic outreach efforts rewarded
For the second year in a row, the Review-Journal was named one of Editor and Publisher’s 10 News Publishers That Do It Right, the organization’s annual recognition of news outlets that have overcome challenges and keep “news vibrant in their local communities.”
E&P honored the Review-Journal on Friday for its outreach to the Hispanic community, its legal fight to protect German’s sources and its efforts to complete German’s work.
Last year, the Review-Journal revamped its Spanish-language coverage by rebranding its free weekly newspaper El Tiempo to Review-Journal en Español and launching a Spanish-language version of the “7@7” video newscast.
In May 2022, the Review-Journal launched the RJ Español app that mirrors the Rjespanol.com website for Spanish speakers who prefer to read the news on their smartphones and tablets. The Spanish-language website features staff-produced, original Spanish-language content, as well as translated stories from reviewjournal.com.
Rjespanol.com’s site traffic has increased by 25 percent since implementation, video views have increased by 80 percent and total revenue driven by the Review-Journal’s Hispanic initiatives has risen by more than 40 percent, according to E&P.
“It’s a great honor,” said Jim Prather, Review-Journal vice president of digital strategy, who spearheaded the transformation of the Review-Journal’s Spanish-language coverage. “We appreciate the recognition. We know there’s still a lot of work ahead of us in serving and establishing a greater bond with the Hispanic community. We’re excited about those opportunities that are ahead of us.”
The Latino population is the fastest-growing demographic in Las Vegas, Prather said, so it is important that as this audience grows, the Review-Journal grows and adapts with them.
E&P also recognized the Review-Journal for its efforts to protect German’s devices and to save the shield law in Nevada.
“Although no amount of reporting would bring him back, the newsroom staff worked through the trauma of German’s slaying by not allowing his work to be silenced — by getting the story and completing the work,” E&P wrote. “We at E&P can think of no better way to ‘do it right.’”
German received a posthumous Citation of Courage award in early March from the Radio Television Digital News Association Foundation in recognition of his service to journalism and his bravery in reporting.
“German served his community by shining a light in dark places and reporting information that would not be uncovered without his skill and determination,” the foundation said. “His death is a tragedy. No journalist should be subject to violence for practicing their First Amendment rights.”