George honored at Gruner Awards

-- Staff reportMay 22, 2013 

Sierra Star reporter Carmen George was recognized at the 25th annual George F. Gruner Awards for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism.

The annual awards are named in honor of retired executive editor of the Fresno Bee, George F. Gruner, who has attended the ceremony all 25 years.

George was honored as a finalist in the weekly newspaper division for a 12-part series on disenrollments at the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians and the ensuing leadership struggle at the rancheria during 2012.

Her reporting drew the attention of journalists at national news organizations including the New York Times, who followed up with stories of their own about disenrollments.

Faith Sidlow of KCEE Channel 24 served as master of ceremonies for the evening and announced George's award.

Sidlow said judges praised George for her thorough coverage of a community in crisis and noted the difficulty it involved.

One judge said, "Carmen George's series of stories present an astonishing sequence of events. For the reader who knows nothing about Chukchansi tribal government, she provides background so that what's occurring is placed in context and seen from multiple vantage points."

Fresno Bee reporter Kurtis Alexander won for daily newspapers with a circulation of more than 50,000 for his series of "Watchdog Reports" about the inter-workings of Fresno County government. Eric Woomer of the Visalia Times-Delta won in the daily under 50,000 circulation category for his "DUI in Tulare County" series.

Dinuba Sentinel reporters Michael Miyamoto and Kevin Geaney won the weekly category for "Gangs: An inside look."

George was singled out as this year's only finalist, with judges also recognizing her for outstanding community service in newspaper journalism.

The Gruner Awards recognize journalists within the San Joaquin Valley from Merced to Bakersfield and the surrounding foothill regions.

The awards are sponsored by The Fresno Bee and Department of Journalism at Fresno State. The event was held at the Fresno Art Museum. Judging is done by a group of journalists outside the Valley, without ties to regional newspapers.

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