“As always, I’m extremely proud and impressed by my team, who—every week—answers the call to bring vital and interesting stories to our loyal readers. It’s an incredible feat in this day and age and especially gratifying to see them get the recognition they deserve,” said Daedalus Howell, editor of the Bohemian and Pacific Sun. Both papers, which competed in the category for weekly newspapers with circulations between 11,001-25,000, are owned by Weeklys, a chain of Bay Area newspapers.
Nikki Silverstein, writer-at-large for the two papers, won first place in the Coverage of Local Government category for her reporting on the arrest of Jeremy Portje. Silverstein was the first to write about the Sausalito Police Department’s decision to arrest Portje, a freelance journalist filming at a city-sanctioned homeless encampment as part of his work on a documentary about homelessness in Marin County.
Silverstein’s reporting quickly drew attention from the San Francisco Chronicle and national press freedom advocacy groups.
“[The stories offer] a chilling lesson about how some overzealous members of law enforcement can manipulate circumstances to create false narratives, while disregarding First Amendment rights,” the judges wrote.
In the same category, Bohemian reporter Chelsea Kurnick and news editor Will Carruthers took fourth place for their five-part series on the intrigue surrounding the April 2021 vandalism in Santa Rosa.
“This story has everything, from a severed pig’s head to pig’s blood to mysteries to thorny First Amendment issues,” the judges wrote.
In the In-Depth Reporting category, Peter Byrne’s 2021 stories on the Point Reyes National Seashore for the Pacific Sun won first place. Chelsea Kurnick’s Bohemian series on the numerous allegations against West County restaurateur Lowell Sheldon won second place in the same category.
Will Carruthers’ Bohemian and Pacific Sun series on Press Democrat owner Darius Anderson’s behind-the-scenes work at the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit won second place in the Investigative Reporting category.
“What appears to be a serious conflict of interest and questionable business dealings is laid out in this story,” the judges wrote.
Carruthers also won second place in the Agricultural Reporting category for his series on the Petaluma Creamery’s unpaid debts to the city of Petaluma, as well as the owner’s history of code violations. After Carruthers broke the story, the Petaluma Argus-Courier and Press Democrat also wrote about the Creamery’s struggles. The company ultimately reached an agreement with Petaluma to comply with safety requirements and pay off its bills.
Nikki Silverstein took second place in the Columns category and fourth place in the Enterprise category for her reporting on the Marin Housing Authority’s management of Golden Gate Village, the county’s largest public housing complex.
“Nikki Silverstein’s Golden Gate Village series turned the tide on Marin Housing Authority’s attempt to gentrify subsidized housing and dislocate generations of Black families,” the judges wrote.
Lastly, Chelsea Kurnick won fifth place in the Feature Story category for her coverage of World AIDS Day.
Links to some of our winning articles are available below. A full list of this year’s print winners is available here.
First Place Awards
Coverage of Local Government — Nikki Silverstein
- Sausalito Police Arrest Freelance Journalist Covering Homelessness
- Attorneys: Sausalito Police Search Warrant Violates Journalist’s Rights
- Marin DA Lori Frugoli Won’t Press Charges Against Journalist
- Affidavit Shows Troubling Reasoning Used by Sausalito Police in Journalist Case
In-Depth Writing — Peter Byrne
Second Place Awards
Agricultural Reporting — Will Carruthers
- Petaluma Threatens to Shut Down Creamery due to Safety Concerns
- Tracking the Petaluma Creamery’s Owner’s History of Code Violations
Columns — Nikki Silverstein
In-Depth Reporting — Chelsea Kurnick
- Rotten Core: Former Employees say Farm-to-Table Restaurateur is Toxic and Abusive
- Sebastopol Restaurateur Lowell Sheldon Accused of Sexual Assault
- Sebastopol Restaurant Handline Separates From Lowell Sheldon After Allegations of Assault
Investigative Reporting — Will Carruthers