I'm doing this old school. I’m sitting in a hotel bar, typing out this column, madly trying to make deadline and keep my award-winning copy and design desks happy. All I'm lacking is a cigar and a green eyeshade.
The news: I am proud to announce that Times Community News has won a total of 22 first- and second-place awards from the California Newspaper Publishers Assn. The CNPA honored work done in 2011 by scores of daily and weekly California newspapers Saturday, and our little publications took home quite the haul.
TCN, North is made up of four newspapers: the Burbank Leader, the Glendale News-Press, the La Cañada Valley Sun and the Pasadena Sun. Those papers are taking home 16 of those plaques. I’m stoked.
On a related note, I want to also express my congratulations to the staff of the Los Angeles Times, which won the CNPA’s highest honor, Newspaper of the Year. The Times is a tremendous force for good in our profession, and I’m proud to be part of that organization.
The Times’ faith in us, coupled with the ability, drive and professionalism of the TCN staff, has made our papers a truly positive force in our communities.
It highlights the importance of the type and style of news that we produce. You will see information in these pages that you simply cannot get anywhere else. You will get hard-hitting, impactful journalism about city finances, insights into officer-involved shootings, and up-to-the second online coverage of news, sports and everything else local.
I am particularly proud of several of our awards. The Burbank Leader received first-place nods for its coverage of the Burbank bonus issue, winning in both the government coverage and freedom of information categories.
A bit of background: The city of Burbank, for many years, provided bonus pay to those it rated as “exceptional.” The Leader sought the names and amounts of those receiving the pay, as the city ranked more than 50% of its employees as A-students. That sounded a bit like grade inflation.
The city refused the Leader’s request, saying the information was tantamount to revealing performance evaluations. We disagreed, took the city to court, and won. It showed that even a small paper could prosecute its rights — one with a burly older brother, anyhow.
The Glendale News-Press also took home an award for its government affairs coverage, largely because of reporter Melanie Hicken’s coverage of the issues regarding Advanced Development and Investment Inc.
ADI’s subcontractors were linked to thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to sitting City Council members. This would not normally be an issue but for the fact that ADI is accused of bilking Glendale — among other cities — of millions of dollars from affordable housing projects. Our stories forever changed the way the city does business, forcing it to be more transparent about contributions.
Additionally, both the Leader and La Cañada Valley Sun websites received first-place awards in their categories, with the brand-new Pasadena Sun receiving a second-place nod for its online coverage.
In addition, the Pasadena Sun received second place in one of the CNPA’s marquee categories: General Excellence. This is an astounding feat for a paper yet to reach its first birthday.
Together, these awards show our commitment to getting at the truth, serving our communities, and advocating for more and better transparency in our local governments.
Are we perfect? Far from it. Could we do more? Of course.
But our journalism peers believe we’re doing a heck of a good job, and that feels really good.
DAN EVANS is the editor. He not only knows the way to San Jose, but the way back. You can find him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (818) 637-3234.