Sep 20, 2006 in NEWS comments (0)

Lance Williams, Mark Fainaru-Wada, Josh Wolf Named Journalists of the Year

Jerry Roberts to Speak at SPJ Awards Dinner

Contact: Linda Jue, 415-445-0230

San Francisco, September 20, 2006 ñ San Francisco Chronicle reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada and freelance journalist Josh Wolf were named Journalists of the Year by the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for upholding the principles of a free and independent press.

At a time when journalists are under increasing pressure to comply with government subpoenas ñ and in the absence of a federal shield law ñ these three have chosen to risk jail rather than reveal confidential sources or turn over to government unpublished portions of their work. The Chronicle reporters have refused to name the source of the grand jury testimony that informed their articles on steroid use among athletes. Wolf, who already has spent time in jail, has refused to turn over unpublished footage of an anarchist demonstration in San Francisco. While their cases are dissimilar, the underlying principles are not.

Williams, Fainaru-Wada, Wolf and the other winners will be honored at the SPJ Excellence in Journalism Awards dinner on Thursday, November 9, at the Yank Sing Restaurant in San Franciscoís Rincon Center. Jerry Roberts, the recently resigned editor of the Santa Barbara News-Press, will be the featured speaker. Roberts, longtime managing editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, is a recipient of a 2006 National SPJ ethics award.

This yearís award winners focused on a wide range of issues including poverty, the war in Iraq, global warming, health insurance and Internet privacy.

The prized Public Service Award went to KALW-FM for its seven-part series ìUnderstanding Wealth and Poverty.î The series explored the huge gaps in the distribution of wealth and opportunities in the Bay Area while also capturing the efforts of low-income residents to control their own destinies. Judges noted that the series was ìnot only public service journalism at its best, but compelling and entertaining radio storytellingî as well.

Orville Schell, dean of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, is the winner of this yearís Career Achievement award. During his 10 years tenure, the school has attracted a distinguished faculty of journalism scholars and practitioners and has become a major platform for the study and discussion of issues facing journalism today. Schell, who has announced his retirement as dean, has devoted most of his professional life to reporting and writing about China. He is the author of 14 books, a contributor to major magazines, and recipient of numerous writing prizes.

The Distinguished Service Award went to Nguyen Qui Duc, founding producer-host of KQEDís ìPacific Time,î the only nationally distributed radio program about Asia and Asian Americans. The program, with 165,000 listeners, links the interests of the countries and peoples of the Asian-Pacific rim to those of the United States. Nguyen, a reporter, poet, fiction writer and artist, has been mentor to dozens of Asian American journalists, many of whom produced their first radio pieces on his show.

Natalie Martinez of the San Jose Mercury News received the Unsung Hero Award for creating the newspaperís first teen page, the award-winning ìRead This.î Martinez recruited students from more than 20 schools, organized them into a mini-newsroom, and taught them how to be reporters. ìRead Thisî has given young people a voice in the paper and given other readers an inside view of their world.

The John Gothberg Award for outstanding service to the SPJ chapter went to board member Lisa Chung, a columnist at the San Jose Mercury News, for her tireless work in managing the chapterís email listserv, serving on the awards committee, and taking on numerous tasks that help the chapter function more efficiently.

Full List of Winners:

Breaking News
ï Print: The San Jose Mercury News (Deborah Lohse, Howard Mintz, Sean Webby, Barry Witt, Brandon Bailey and John Woolfolk) for coverage of the arrest of Mayor Ron Gonzales, which followed the paperís investigation of charges that the mayor had improperly promised the cityís trash handler a sizeable addition to its contract.
ï Broadcast: The KCBS News Team for their reporting on Hurricane Katrina that not only told what was happening in the region, but also provided the historical, social, political and economic background for the stories.    

Explanatory Journalism
ï Print: Jane Kay, San Francisco Chronicle, for ìIn a Warming World,î a series that captures the global scope of climate change through acute observation, human stories, and understandable science.
ï Broadcast: Kristi Coale, Ben Trefny, Steven Short, Nate Johnson, Sue Mell, Zoe Corneli and Holly Kernan of KALW-FM for ìThe Public Transportation Edition,î a program that explores the impact of transportation funding and policies on the people who need it most, the urban poor.
ï Online: Kristen Gerencher,, for a series on high-deductible health plans. Slicing through jargon, the series uses straightforward language to explain the ìfree-marketî health plans that are likely to affect many workers in the coming years.

Investigative Journalism
ï Declan McCullagh and Anne Broache of CNET for ìInternet Privacy and Practices,î a series that uncovered illegal federal government tracking of Web use. Reporters found 16 government sites that violated a 2003 directive against placing ìcookiesî on visitorsí hard drives; nearly all of the agencies involved soon dropped the practice.

Feature Writing
ï Print: Joan Ryan, San Francisco Chronicle, for ìWar Without End,î her series on the physical and emotional struggles of two wounded Iraq war veterans. The intimate portraits of the veterans and their networks of family and friends bring home to readers one of the under-reported dimensions of this conflict.
ï Broadcast: Steven Short, KALW-FM, for ìThe Roving Tailor,î the story of an artist who takes a sewing machine to San Franciscoís Tenderloin to mend whatever local residents bring to him.
ï Online: CNET (John Borland, Daniel Terdiman, Elinor Mills, Stefanie Olsen, and Declan McCullagh) for ìTaking back the Web,î a series that profiles the ìmillenials,î members of a generation that was weaned on the Internet and may be returning it to its socially oriented and politically libertarian roots.

ï Tim Redmond, San Francisco Bay Guardian, for thought-provoking editorials that balance passion with facts and solid arguments

ï Anneli Rufus, The East Bay Express, whose provocative book reviews are intelligent commentaries capable on standing of their own, alongside the works they are reviewing.

ï Michael Macor, San Francisco Chronicle, for photos that show the human condition in New Orleans, Iraq and Kenya ñ and reveal the photographerís compassion for his subjects.

Outstanding Emerging Journalism
ï Sarah Varney, KQED radio, for a collection of stories that combine perceptive reporting and great storytelling. Reports on obesity, stem cell research and ballet demonstrate an increasing maturity and sophistication in the work of this young journalist.

Outstanding Student Journalists
ï The Mills College public-radio reporting class (Annie Abernethy, Adina Lepp, Hallee Berg, Thea Chroman, Kristin Darling, Alexandra Kostoulas and Ilana Murphy) for producing a series on redevelopment issues in Oakland. (Broadcast on KALW-FM)

Two veteran Bay Area journalists, Belva Davis of KQED and Al Hart of KCBS, are serving as honorary chairs of the SPJ Excellence in Journalism Awards Dinner, which will be held on Thursday, November 9, 2006, at Yank Sing Restaurant in Rincon Center (101 Spear Street at Mission), San Francisco. Cocktails and a silent auction begin at 6 p.m; dinner will be served at 7. The program will follow with emcees Barbara Rodgers, KPIX news anchor, and Michael Krasny, host of KQEDís ìForum.î For information or to purchase tickets, contact Eva Martinez at or 415-648-1045.

The judges: Randy Alfred, Gina Baleria, Joanna Biggar, Jim Brice, Jerry Ceppos, Lydia Chavez, Rene Ciria-Cruz, John Doxey, Reese Erlich, Adi Gevins, Ted Glasser, Juan Gonzales, Rasa Gustaitas, Melanie Haiken, Chris Hardy, Chul Heo, John Hewitt, Paul Kleyman, Sally Lehrman, Greg Lyon, Dick Meister, Noah Miller, Doris Owyang, Marcia Parker, David Pham, Rick Rocamora, Nicole Sawaya, Andre Shashaty, Bari Scott, Fred Setterberg, Gail Silva, Erna Smith, Michael Stoll, David Talbot, Chris Vaughan, David Weir, Michael Winter, William Wong