Star reporter wins journalism award

Reporter Morgan Voorhis received the George F. Gruner Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism at the 27th annual event held last week in Fresno. Voorhis won for her three-part gambling series, “Risking it All,” which ran Feb. 27 through March 6, 2014 in the Sierra Star.

The series focused on compulsive gamblers, how to tell the difference between recreational and addictive gambling, and the impact of problem gamblers beyond the financial.

The goal was to help family members better understand what drives an addicted gambler, and offer available resources that not only help the gambler, but affected family, as well. Voorhis was able to conduct in-depth interviews with problem gamblers, who agreed to be very open about what they had done, as long as they were guaranteed anonymity.

Other Gruner winners were Hannah Furfaro, The Fresno Bee’s education reporter, for her coverage of career technical education efforts; Joe Johnson of the Hanford Sentinel for a series on law enforcement’s use of force; and Rachel Cook of the Bakersfield Californian, for an in-depth examination of dental malpractice.

The prizes honor George F. Gruner, a former executive editor of The Fresno Bee. The Gruner Awards are sponsored by The Bee and the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism at Fresno State, and are open to newspapers from Merced to Bakersfield. The judging is done by a group of professional journalists outside the Valley.

This is the second Gruner Award for Voorhis, who won for her seven-part domestic violence series in 1998. Shortly afterwards, she left journalism to pursue other interests, returning to the Sierra Star as a reporter in Oct. 2013.