Review-Journal staff takes top award for third year

The Las Vegas Review-Journal won the top award Saturday in Carson City at the annual Nevada Press Association’s "Better Newspaper Contest," taking the general excellence award for the third year in a row.

The judges praised the newspaper for its "good use of photos to lead the stories" and said it was "high on content."

Justin Yurkanin, a video­grapher and multimedia producer, was named the state’s outstanding visual journalist. It’s the first time the press association has honored the state’s top visual journalist.

"Justin has a good eye for moments that best tell the story," the judges wrote. "The interviews were great. … The editing seems flawless — it feels smooth, there are no awkward moments. Great storytelling."

Yurkanin, 31, joined the Las Vegas Review-Journal in December 2008. He is a graduate of Syracuse University and had worked at the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the St. Augustine Record.

The Review-Journal also won 22 first-place awards, and swept several categories, including best news feature, best entertainment writing, best critical writing and best local column.

"I’m really proud of the R-J staffers. It’s great that they are recognized in this way for their efforts. Many people were involved in the work that was honored by the Nevada Press Association — writers, photographers and editors. It takes the efforts of many to produce award-winning work," Review-Journal editor Mike Hengel said.

Lynnette Curtis won first place for best news feature story for her look at attempts to identify five wards of Clark County. "This was a unique article with perspectives that are often overlooked," the judges wrote.

Keith Rogers won for best explanatory journalism for his piece on the Nevada Test Site’s 60th anniversary. "This reporter is able to weave good storytelling, statistics, history and anecdotes into one good story without overwhelming the reader," the judges wrote.

Henry Brean won for best spot news story for his report on a fire that killed three children and a baby sitter in Pahrump. "I felt like I was at the scene of the fire," the judge wrote, "watching as neighbors tried to put it out and emergency crews arrived too late."

Ron Kantowski won best sports story for his look at the local Miracle League for baseball players with disabilities, which the judges called a "great sports topic to get personal about."

Christopher Lawrence won best entertainment writing for his television pieces, written with a "seemingly effortless blend of humor and insight," the judges said.

Editorial Page Editor John Kerr placed first in editorial writing for the third straight year.

Restaurant reviewer Heidi Knapp Rinella won best critical writing.

Photographers Jessica Ebelhar, John Locher and Jeff Scheid won best multiple photo essay for shots from the campaign trail. "It is nice to see there are still some papers out there allowing their staffs the time to do photo essays," the judges wrote. "The paper should be proud of the work of their photographers and editors with this project."

K.M. Cannon took first place in the best portrait category for a photo of a rodeo cowboy doing yoga. "While not a formal portrait, this picture conveys who this person is and what they are like," the judges wrote.

The Review-Journal design staff, led by art director Ched Whitney, won for best overall design and best page one design.

The paper’s advertising staff swept the best large-space ad category, with Jennifer Dibble winning first. She also won first in the black-and-white ad category. Mario Aguirre won first for best spot-color ad and Daniela Gastelum won first for best multicolor ad.

Several former Review-Journal staffers also won firsts.

John Gurzinski won best feature photo for the moon over Las Vegas, which the judge said was "something I would be willing to hang on my wall" and for best illustrated photo for a mushroom cloud reflected in a former Nevada Test Site worker’s goggles.

Corey Levitan won best local column. Judges said his first-person "Fear and Loafing" pieces were "interesting topics written with great style."

Mike Johnson won best information graphic for his look at The Cosmopolitan.

Ginger Meurer, who works for the View Neighborhood Newspapers edition of the Review-Journal, won for best headline writing for urban newspapers, competing against both dailies and weeklies throughout the state.

Other big winners included former Las Vegas Sun reporters Marshall Allen and Alex Richards for "Do No Harm: Hospital Care in Las Vegas." Their series, which used a computer examination of insurance documents to look at hospital treatment, was named story of the year and also won best investigative story and the freedom of the press and community service awards.

Judges said it was "true public service journalism that got results."

Photo of the year honors went to Andy Barron and best multimedia story to Julian Peach, both of the Reno Gazette-Journal.

The Nevada Appeal in Carson City won best website.

Editorial of the year went to Steve Falcone of the Reno Gazette-Journal, and editorial cartoon of the year went to Mike Smith, formerly with the Las Vegas Sun.

The outstanding journalists were Greg Blake Miller, of Vegas Seven, for urban newspapers, and Steve Green, of In Business Las Vegas, for community newspapers. The journalist of merit, given to a reporter with less than five years experience, was Amanda Finnegan of the Las Vegas Sun.

The Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame inducted three new members: Guy Shipler, a political writer who covered Carson City for many years, and Mark Lundahl and John Smetana, editors at the Reno Gazette-Journal who died within the past year.

Adele Hoppe, executive director of the Record-Courier in Gardnerville, received the Silver Star Award, and Assembly­woman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, was named First Amendment Champion.

Other Review-Journal work that was honored:

SECOND PLACE

Freedom of the press award, opinion page staff; best feature story, John Przybys; best news feature story, Paul Harasim; best explanatory journalism, Joan Whitely; best local column, John L. Smith; best sports column, Matt Youmans; best entertainment writing and best critical writing, Jason Bracelin; best page designer, Mark Antonuccio; best illustration, David Stroud; best news photo coverage and best sports photo, Jason Bean; best illustrated photo, K.M. Cannon; best multimedia story, Michael Quine, Mark Antonuccio, Keith Rogers, Jerry Henkel and Mike Johnson; best special section (editorial), Review-Journal; best large-space ad, Danielle Robbins Cawkill; best black-and-white ad, Jeffrey Bona; best spot-color ad, Yvonta Thompson; best special section advertising, Bob Brown; best in-house advertising promotion, Jeffrey Bona; advertising general excellence, Chris Trares and Bob Brown.

THIRD PLACE

Best spot news story, Mike Blasky; best feature story, Ed Vogel; best news feature story, Brian Haynes; best local column, Thomas Mitchell; best entertainment writing, Steve Bornfeld; best critical writing, Carol Cling; best editorial page, editorial page staff; best information graphic, Mike Johnson; best headline writing, Anita Gosch; best portrait photo, Jessica Ebelhar; best multimedia story, Justin Yurkanin and Nathan Tannenbaum; best large-space ad, Kristian Aries Datuin; best multi-color ad, Jennifer Reichelt; best special section advertising, Chris Trares and Bob Brown; best in-house advertising promotion, Napoleon Louis Uy.

URBAN WEEKLIES

Two editions of the Review-Journal, View Neighborhood Newspapers and Las Vegas Business Press, compete in the urban weeklies category.

View Neighborhood Newspapers won first and second place for community service and placed third in general excellence. Michael Lyle was named journalist of merit and Kristi Jourdan placed second in that category. The weekly edition won first place for best business story and best investigative or in-depth story or series, Michael Lyle; best sports story, Maggie Lillis; best editorial page, Ginger Meurer; best overall design; staff; and best black-and-white ad, Jennifer Dibble. It won second place for best spot news story and best investigative or in-depth story or series, Kristi Jourdan; best business feature, Maggie Lillis; best news photo coverage, Jessica Ebelhar; best feature photo, Jessica Ebelhar; best multiple photo essay, F. Andrew Taylor; best multimedia story, Jason Bean. It won third place for best feature story, Mike Prevatt; best illustration, F. Andrew Taylor; best news photo coverage, Jessica Ebelhar; best feature photo, Jessica Ebelhar; best website, Tonya Carpenter, Greg Haas, Janet Murphy; best multimedia story, Michael Quine; best local non-staff column, Deborah Wall; best large-space ad, Danielle Cawkill; best black-and-white ad, Teri Hogue; best multicolor ad, Jennifer Dibble; advertising general excellence, Chris Trares, Bob Brown and Ginger Meurer.

Las Vegas Business Press won a first place, Dan Behringer for best editorial writing. The Business Press also won second place for best website; best business news story, Caitlin McGarry; and explanatory journalism, Valerie Miller; and third place for best business news story, Laura Emerson; best investigative or in-depth story or series, Valerie Miller; and editorial of the year, Dan Behringer.

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