Las Vegas Sun

October 22, 2014

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Associated Press recognizes Sun with public service award, 4 others

Marshall Allen, first place for feature writing

Leila Navidi, second place for portrait photography

The Las Vegas Sun has won five awards, including the Fairbanks Public Service Award and first places for reporter Marshall Allen for investigative reporting and feature writing, in the 2007 Associated Press California-Nevada Newswriting and Photo contest.

The public service award was for a series of stories by reporters Jeff German and Mike Trask documenting the large amounts of overtime paid every year to public employees in the Las Vegas Valley.

Allen won for investigative reporting for his series of stories, titled “Indentured Doctors,” on the misuse and mistreatment of foreign doctors who agree to practice in underserved inner city and rural areas in return for a faster path to U.S. citizenship. His findings, including that employers exploited the foreign physicians for their own profit, led to reforms in how Nevada oversees the J-1 visa waiver program, and have prompted calls for a national investigation.

Allen’s first place in feature writing was for a story on a Las Vegas woman who stopped at a hospital seeking a mental health referral and found herself locked up against her will, sedated and left in the presence of violent mental patients for five days.

Reporter Christina Littlefield took second place in the investigative reporting category for her stories on whether the head of construction at the College of Southern Nevada used his position to help build his house on Mount Charleston using college materials and employees. Her stories triggered an ongoing investigation by the Nevada attorney general’s office.

Second place for portrait photography went to Leila Navidi for her series of a dozen close-ups of a clown in the Cirque du Soleil production “Mystere.”

The Sun competed against newspapers with circulations between 75,000 and 199,999 — or all but the six largest dailies in California.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our winners,” Michael J. Kelley, managing editor of the Sun, said. “This is the best we have done in this highly competitive contest. It shows that the caliber of the Sun’s work, which is growing our readership and having an impact on public policy in Nevada, is also drawing recognition from our peers.

“It is especially gratifying to win the public service award and both investigative reporting awards.”

The stories on public employee overtime included assists from Sun reporters Steve Kanigher, Ed Koch and Mary Manning, and the contest entry included editorials by Dave Clayton and Matt Hufman.

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