The 29th Annual George F. Gruner Awards for outstanding journalism in the Central Valley during 2016 were announced Feb. 23 at a reception at the Fresno Art Museum.
Sierra Star reporter Morgan Voorhis was honored with two first place awards and an honorable mention in the weekly paper division, and Star Editor Brian Wilkinson took first place in the same division for best editorial.
Voorhis received first place in best news story for “Where have all the homeless gone?” (Sierra Star June 16 edition) - a look at the lower number of homeless at a variety of gathering spots in the Oakhurst area. The Madera County Sheriff’s Office, a homeless advocate, as well as members of the homeless community were interviewed for the story.
Her photo of a lone homeless man walking a quiet Oakhurst road during the early morning hours accompanied the story, and took honorable mention for best news photo.
Voorhis also won first place in the features category for her story “A Rolling Stone,” (Sierra Star July 28 edition) - the story of John Sears, who for 30-plus years, has lived as a nomad, trekking across the western United States with his mules.
Wilkinson’s editorial - “25% pay raise excessive,” (Sierra Star Sept. 8 edition) - was critical of a proposed 25% pay increase by the Madera County Board of Supervisors for themselves.
At the time three of the supervisors were making $79,397 annually and two were being paid $75,616. The raise would have translated to a total salary increase of nearly $100,000 for the five board members. The pay raise plan was dropped at the board’s following meeting.
There were 100 entries submitted for consideration from 21 newspapers.
Fresno State’s Department of Mass Communication and Journalism coordinates the Gruner competition, named for George F. Gruner, a Fresno Bee executive editor who retired in 1988 after a career in journalism covering 46 years.
The Gruner awards are sponsored by The Bee and the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism at Fresno State, and the judging is done by a group of professional journalists outside the Valley.