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Winners of the L.A. Times' 2010 Editorial Awards

May 17, 2011 |  8:09 pm

The Times' Editorial Awards for 2010 celebrate what Editor Russ Stanton called "an incredible year by any measure, an extraordinary one journalistically when we step back ... to honor the best work produced by one of the very best newsrooms on the planet."

The winners:

Beat Reporting (two winners): Jeffrey Fleishman, for his reporting from Egypt. Fleishman visited Egypt's economically depressed Nile Delta, spent time with the urban poor in Cairo and managed, with rich details and lyrical style, to tell readers what it was like to be inside the minds of the Egyptian people, tapping into a current of dissent broiling just under the surface.

Don Lee, for his coverage of the national economy from Washington, D.C. Lee told us how the slow start that young people are getting in the workforce will haunt them for years to come in the form of diminished lifetime earnings and paltry retirement funds. He explained that the biggest beneficiaries of much-heralded U.S. manufacturing incentives might actually be overseas. And when consumer spending finally began to show signs of life last year, he warned us that too much of that increase was coming from the rich, a sign of an uneven recovery.

EA-haiti147 Breaking News: Haiti earthquake -- Reporters Tina Susman, Tracy Wilkinson, Joe Mozingo and Ken Ellingwood and photographers Carolyn Cole, Rick Loomis and Brian van der Brug. From the first-day story, which correctly identified the sweep of the disaster, to the gut-wrenching street scenes that followed, the reporting and photography detailed the breadth of destruction as well as the diplomatic efforts to marshal relief. 

Investigations: Bell -- Ruben Vives, Jeff Gottlieb, Kim Christensen, Paloma Esquivel, Paul Pringle, Robert J. Lopez, Hector Becerra, Corina Knoll, Richard Winton, Christopher Goffard. For their series of stories exposing officials' exorbitant salaries and financial misdeeds in the small working-class town of Bell. The Times' stories sparked legislative reform efforts aimed at public pay and pension abuses, including a bill that would require California's city, county and schools officials to disclose their compensation online.

Explanatory Reporting: Christopher Goffard, for his coverage of Los Angeles County's Project 50, an effort to help the most intractable cases of homelessness. Goffard's two-year pursuit of the story was likened to the program itself -- difficult, quixotic and dangerous.

Opinion: George Skelton, for "Capitol Journal." Judges said Skelton's long institutional memory provides an expert's perspective on the Capitol and its denizens. "He has a knack for finding examples that resonate with readers. Everyone knows California is broke. How broke? 'It's about to run out of toilet paper in its rural parks,' Skelton wrote. Talk about getting to the bottom of it."

Feature Writing: Faye Fiore, for her portraits of America's home front. Fiore's eye finds the symbolic and intimate details of the lives of the men and women lost to war: A can of beer left on a soldier's grave. A box of Ritz crackers marked down to $1.99. An empty chair where a grieving mother's son once sat.

Sports Reporting: Eric Sondheimer, for his prep coverage. In 2010, he wrote 243 stories, contributed mightily to the Varsity Times Insider blog and trained himself as a videographer. Among his columns, he lectured Santa Margarita and the Catholic Diocese of Orange about transparency and openness; wrote in colorful detail about how the boys' basketball coach at Verdugo Hills High led his team to its first league championship since 1959; and recounted how Los Angeles Dorsey's primo sacker was so much more.

News Blog: Technology -- Nathan Olivarez-Giles, Jessica Guynn, David Sarno, Tiffany Hsu, Peter Pae. The Technology blog has seen its traffic soar by being relevant, posting often and being first. 

Features Blog: Show Tracker -- Martin Miller, Joy Press, Scott Collins, Melissa Maerz, Greg Braxton, Yvonne Villarreal, Robert Lloyd, Mary McNamara. This team breaks a lot of news on the blog, which last year included such big stories as CNN's firing of Rick Sanchez, Piers Morgan's replacing of Larry King and KCET's pulling out of the Public Broadcasting System. But the talented editors, staff writers and freelancers who make this blog work offer plenty of fun, compelling features to pull viewers' fingers away from the remote and onto a computer –- whether it's for extensive recaps of programming, interviews with TV players, live chats or riffs on trending topics.

EA-cole News Photography:


Carolyn Cole, whose images of life (and death) in and around the Gulf Coast after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill told the story of massive environmental devastation in so many ways. Cole has never waited for a story to come to her. She found -- and patiently observed -- the stunned pelicans, the terrified shrimpers and the furious hotel owners. To get these enduring images, Cole lived out of a rental car for nearly three months.

Feature Photography: Barbara Davidson, whose "Caught in the Crossfire" photos illustrate the narrative of hope, love and loss in South L.A., Compton and Watts. Davidson took these photos over a period of two years, taking her time to earn the trust of her subjects, a feat that brings a sensitivity and understanding to her work that would have otherwise been impossible.

EAcrossfire Multimedia/Video: "Caught in the Crossfire" -- Barbara Davidson, Mary Cooney, Alan Hagman, Jeremiah Bogert, Albert Lee, Myung J. Chun. At a time when overall crime rates have declined, "Caught in the Crossfire" goes behind the scenes to offer powerful portraits of crime victims. Judges said the project vividly illustrated how a moment of random violence can lead to a lifetime of pain, anguish and suffering for the victims.

News Design: Tim Hubbard, who was described as a catalyst for the success of three major 2010 news events: the Vancouver Winter Games, the World Cup soccer tournament and the Lakers' run to another NBA championship. His work runs the gamut, from poster-worthy covers to labor-intensive agate pages. And most important, he is cool under the most intense situations.

Features Design (two winners): Joey Santos, whose design was called an effective storytelling tool. He knows when to hold back and let three strong photos lead a story, as with Image's fall denim feature. Conversely, he knows when more is, in fact, more, as with Image's swimsuit spread. His other highlights included the Health story on salt, the webby design of "City Walk" and his use of clever illustrations (Vitamin D).

Rip Georges, who gracefully manages the union of words and images in LA Magazine. For the last three years, its stylish and unique look -- in print, online and on the iPad app -- was his.

Graphics: Brady MacDonald, who produced graphics on such topics as the "Ring" Cycle, Peter Pan, Tiger Woods and the Lakers. But his biggest accomplishment in 2010 was his outstanding and innovative work on the Vancouver Winter Olympics, a performance worthy of our own gold medal.   

EAyosemite Online Presentation: "Four Seasons in Yosemite" -- Mark Boster, Kathy M.Y. Pyon, Jason La, Calvin Hom, Don Kelsen, Stephanie Ferrell, Tia Lai, Michael McGehee, Mary Forgione. Judges said the elegance of the design in "Four Seasons in Yosemite" matches the elegance of Mark Boster's photos. This presentation has everything: stunning photos, an interactive map for visitors, photography tips and Boster's video journal.

Copy Editing: Marina Levario of the features copy desk. The judges said she would rightfully deserve the award any year for her excellent editing and headline writing. But last year, she went way beyond her "day job," doing work that helped the entire newsroom as it moved to a new content editing system.

Headline Writing: Linda Whitmore of the features copy desk. Whitmore "bowled over" the judges with her ability to transform the pun into literary metaphor. "Snappy," "sophisticated" and "layered" were some of the adjectives used to describe gems such as "Claire buoyant" on a profile of actress Claire Daines; "Toto recall" on a spate of "Wizard of Oz"-themed movie projects; and "Do fence me in," about a Texas museum dedicated to barbed wire.

Assignment Editing (two awards): Catharine Hamm for Travel: Hamm is described as a team leader who inspires excellent work and leads by example -- by being, among other things, an outstanding storyteller in her own right. She also has a huge hand in producing our second-largest community event each year, the Los Angeles Times Travel Show.

Shelby Grad, Steve Marble, Kimi Yoshino of the city desk: These three guided the coverage of Bell and deftly managed a stellar team of veterans and younger reporters. They were not merely satisfied with getting stories on Page A1 but pushed for -- and sometimes produced themselves -- the broad range of work now required: breaking-news alerts, blog items, broadcast interviews, tweets, Facebook posts. And they never lost sight of the larger mission: to use the power of the press to hold our elected leaders accountable.

Editor's Prize: "Grading the Teachers" -- Jason Felch, Jason Song, Doug Smith, Sandra Poindexter, Ken Schwencke. In their outstanding and controversial five-part series, a team of reporters led by Felch and Song did what the L.A. Unified School District would not: They used the district's own data to identify the most effective -- and least effective -- teachers and schools. And they put the information out in the light of day, for all to see. Stanton said "Grading the Teachers" was "a courageous and consequential piece of journalism."

Publisher's Prize: Bell -- Ruben Vives, Jeff Gottlieb, Kim Christensen, Paloma Esquivel, Paul Pringle, Robert J. Lopez, Hector Becerra, Corina Knoll, Richard Winton, Christopher Goffard, Sam Allen, Abby Sewell, Catherine Saillant, Jessica Garrison, Shelby Grad, Kimi Yoshino, Steve Marble. Times Publisher Eddy Hartenstein praised the team, led by reporters Gottlieb and Vives, that showed the staggering and covert salary excesses of public officials in the small, working-class community of Bell: "Robert Rizzo and his cronies, I think, savored their windfall and knew all too well what they were doing and knew they had to keep it secret. And if anyone was bold enough to uncover it, it was some of our folks here. They went to ask the city clerks at Bell, Calif., and the response they got repeatedly was 'Those records aren't available; come back in two weeks.' But they wouldn't accept that.... When [the lid] finally came off the Bell salary scandal, it was not because of a grand jury or a conscience-stricken official or anything like that. It was because of two intrepid L.A. Times reporters."    

Photos, from top:

"Haiti": In Port-au-Prince, a man stands in the ruins of the Notre Dame Cathedral at the start of a three-day period of national mourning in Haiti, a month after the devastating earthquake Jan. 12, 2010. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

"Deepwater Horizon": At the Fort Jackson Bird Rehabilitation Center, an oiled brown pelican gets pre-treatment to loosen the oil before being bathed June 21, 2010. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

"Caught in the Crossfire": Ten-year-old Erica Miranda was shot in the back, knee and hip while playing basketball outside her home in Compton. Credit: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

"Yosemite": The last rays of sunset cast an orange color on the face of Half Dome on Jan. 31, 2010. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times