Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012 | 2 a.m.
The Sun’s yearlong project chronicling efforts to improve Clark County’s most-troubled public schools has been named the best story of the year by the Nevada Press Association.
Judges said the project, “The Turnaround: Inside Clark County Schools,” “is what newspapers were meant to do.” They congratulated the paper for applying long-form storytelling to a digital format, and using videos and graphics, to offer a broad review “of complex matters that are at the core of the public interest.”
“If more newspapers emulated the Sun, our republic would be well served,” judges concluded.
The series was notable for the access granted the Sun by the Clark County School District to drop in on campuses and spend time in classrooms, lunch areas and other areas of campus without advance notice and without an escort; to be able to speak candidly with faculty, staff and students; and watch the efforts undertaken by the schools to improve student performance.
The journalists most responsible for the series were Paul Takahashi, Leila Navidi and Dave Berns.
Brian Greenspun, publisher and editor of the Sun, thanked School District officials for allowing Sun journalists unfettered access to the campuses.
“Their confidence in the Sun, and the resulting transparency, allowed us to tell a story that didn’t pull punches and has shed light on the challenges facing parents, students, teachers and our district leaders in turning around our schools and improving the future of our state,” Greenspun said.
Three Greenspun Media Group publications — the Sun, Las Vegas Weekly and VEGAS INC, received a combined 94 awards in the annual journalism competition that honors the best in the business.
The honors were announced at the industry’s awards banquet Saturday night at the D hotel.
The business weekly VEGAS INC won the Freedom of the Press award in its category for reporter Steve Green’s coverage of the legal problems confronting Righthaven LLC, the copyright enforcement partner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The award is given for upholding the principles of the First Amendment and protecting the public’s right to know.
The Review-Journal won the Freedom of the Press award in the urban newspaper category.
In other categories:
• Las Vegas Weekly designer Ryan Olbrysh was named the most outstanding visual journalist in Nevada.
• Sun and VEGAS INC reporter Conor Shine was one of four young journalists in Nevada designated as Journalists of Merit because of their outstanding work.
• The Sun, Las Vegas Weekly and VEGAS INC swept all eight first-place awards in the design categories, and illustrator Chris Morris won first and second place for his illustrations in the Sun and VEGAS INC.
Other first-place awards for the Sun were presented to Matt Hufman for best editorial page, Craig Peterson for headline writing, Sam Morris for photo essay, John Katsilometes for best online writing, the staff for best special section and entertainment manager Bernie Yuman for best nonstaff story.
In addition to the first-place awards for VEGAS INC that were won by Shine, Green, Chris Morris and Sam Morris, first-place plaques also were presented to the staff for its website, Richard N. Velotta for business news story, Green for business feature, Michael Squires for explanatory journalism, Delen Goldberg for news feature, Spencer Holladay for design, Sam Morris for feature photo, Steve Marcus for portrait and sports photo, Rob Langrell for special editorial section and the staff for best advertising special section.
In addition to Las Vegas Weekly’s first-place awards won by Olbrysh and Katsilometes, first-place plaques were awarded to Kristen Peterson for entertainment writing; Josh Bell for critical writing; Wesley Gatbonton, with Olbrysh, for overall design; Danny Hellerman for illustration; Bill Hughes for illustrated photo; and Navidi for sports photo.
The Review-Journal won, among other categories, the general excellence and community service awards; R-J reporter Lawrence Mower was named Outstanding Journalist, and R-J photographer Jessica Ebelhar’s picture of an Indycar crash was named Photo of the Year.
The Reno Gazette-Journal won first-place plaques for, among others, spot news story, feature story, sports story, investigative or in-depth story or series, and explanatory journalism.