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Daily Pilot wins several statewide journalism awards

A woman prays at the memorial shrine.
A woman prays at the memorial shrine outside the gated community of Pelican Crest, where Kobe Bryant lived with his family in Newport Coast. This photo placed second in the news photo category of the 2020 California Journalism Awards Print Contest.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The Daily Pilot brought home seven awards Tuesday in the 2020 California Journalism Awards Print Contest — four of which are for photos and three are for news reporting.

Former editor David Carillo-Peñaloza, who left the Daily Pilot earlier this year to be a multiplatform editor at the Los Angeles Times — offered his congratulations to his former staff, adding that he was “really proud of each and every one of [them].”

“The awards, they’re nice to win,” said Carrillo-Peñaloza. “But [they], you know, ... worked tirelessly through the summer and the pandemic and did fantastic work. [The Daily Pilot] winning these awards says a lot about the talent at Times Community News.”

The Daily Pilot — a paper in Times Community News division of the Los Angeles Times — competed in categories relative to its circulation size. The California News Publishers Assn. competition is held statewide.

“These awards mean so much because they are judged by our peers,” said John Canalis, an assistant managing editor with the L.A. Times.

HBFD engineer Kane Johnson, Special Forces veteran Jake Green, and veteran Dane Morressey.
HBFD engineer Kane Johnson, Special Forces veteran Jake Green, and veteran Dane Morressey arrive to the beach from the Operation Open Water endurance paddle from Catalina Island to the south side of the Huntington Beach Pier on Veterans’ Day. This photo won fourth place for feature photos in the 2020 California Journalism Awards Print Contest.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“They also put the spotlight on the importance of community journalism and how critical it is for us to not only watchdog city halls but to document community life and sports in words and pictures,” Canalis said. “I am so proud of our Times Community News team.

“They do work that matters to our readers, who faithfully continue to support them.”

In a year that began with tumult, photographer Don Leach won second, fourth and fifth place in a total of four categories — coverage of protests and racial justice, news, feature and sports action photos — with his snapshots throughout the last year.

“2020 was such a tough year for everyone, on so many levels. It was hard to stay motivated. Things really slowed down with the cancellations and shutdowns, so I’m really happy to come away with meaningful images from things that did occur,” he said.

“It’s nice to be recognized for your work and I’m really happy I placed. Without having an office as a base, and not seeing everyone, it’s a challenge to stay motivated,” Leach added. “I’m really stoked I won, I must be doing something right.”

Protesters including Marcia Brown march from Fashion Island entrance during a Black Lives Matter protest.
Protesters including Marcia Brown march from Fashion Island entrance during a Black Lives Matter protest which began at MacArthur Boulevard and East Coast Highway in Newport Beach on Wednesday. This photo won second in coverage of protests and racial justice photos for the 2020 California Journalism Awards Print Contest.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Leach won second place for a photo he took during a Black Lives Matter protest last summer and for one documenting a solemn moment of a prayer in the immediate aftermath of the death of basketball giant Kobe Bryant.

He captured fifth place for sports with a photo of wrestlers at Newport Harbor High School earlier in the year and a fourth-place award for a feature photo of people helping a veteran out of the water.

Hayden Hernandez of Huntington Beach is turned by Newport Harbor's Kai Villasenor.
Hayden Hernandez of Huntington Beach is turned by Newport Harbor’s Kai Villasenor in 106 pound class during Wave League wrestling at Newport Harbor on Wednesday. This won fifth in the sports action photo category of the 2020 California Journalism Awards Print Contest.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Reporter Sara Cardine won second and third place in the categories of coverage of youth and education and feature stories.

“Being able to tell stories for a living is, in a way, its own reward,” Cardine said on Tuesday. “Still, it feels great when our local coverage is recognized by others in the industry.”

Last summer, Cardine reported on the Orange County Board of Education and its efforts to redefine the reopening guidelines for schools — beginning with a move in July to approve recommendations to send students back that sharply contrasted against that of neighboring Los Angeles and San Diego.

The guidelines were controversial and, ultimately, ended with the Orange County Board of Education announcing in August that it intended to sue Gov. Gavin Newsom to allow students to return to in-person classes that fall after Newsom’s July 17 order to mandate counties under state monitoring for high rates of transmission of COVID-19 to return to distance learning in the fall.

In December, Cardine also reported from the Orange County fairgrounds in Costa Mesa on a herd of goats that were tasked with clearing up a steep 2-acre berm surrounding the Pacific Amphitheatre. The hope is that their arrival may restore the berm’s soil resiliency. That story was published on Dec. 28.

Reporter Andrew Turner won fourth place in breaking news for a story on the local baseball community mourning the death of Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa, who were among the victims in a Calabasas helicopter crash that took the lives of Kobe Bryant and eight others.

“I would like to thank Sara Cardine, Lilly Nguyen, Matt Szabo and Carol Cormaci for their hard work and continued support,” Turner said on Tuesday. “I would also like to thank John Canalis and Steve Virgen, who hired me, former editor David Carrillo-Penaloza, and our photo department for keeping this ship running so we can do what we love to do in covering our communities.

“We’re a pretty good team,” said Turner.

“We have a newsroom full of talented, hard-working journalists and I’m thrilled that Don, Sara and Andrew were recognized by the [California News Publishers Assn.] judges for their outstanding efforts to document life as it unfolded here during 2020, a particularly trying year,” said managing editor Carol Cormaci. “My warmest congratulations to all of them.”

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