In summary

The latest awards for CalMatters journalists from the Sacramento Press Club show the ability to trudge past a lack of access to bring the public essential information and unique human stories.

Once again CalMatters journalists have been honored for their in-depth work, this time by the Sacramento Press Club.

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Manuela Tobías won first place for housing and homelessness reporting for stories exploring the state’s housing crisis such as this one on what lawmakers could do to boost homeownership for Black families.

Tobias’ stories on homelessness examine three aspects of the state’s housing crisis: the historically low rates of home ownership among Blacks and new local and state strategies to close the gap; the debate over whether demands of building trade unions impede construction of affordable housing on abandoned retail sites; and the fierce resistance to a new law allowing homeowners to build up to four housing units in neighborhoods zoned for single-family homes.

Many are frustrated or and angered by the inability of political leaders to solve homelessness and affordable housing. Tobias’ reporting helps explain why it’s so difficult. It’s a nuanced dive into a topic that often elicits simplistic answers to complicated questions.

Jocelyn Wiener was a finalist for impact in journalism for “California’s Broken System of Nursing Home Oversight.”

Wiener’s stories looked at the broken system of nursing home licensing in depressing detail. The stories focused on the record of a Los Angeles businessman who runs dozens of homes through a web of companies and who has not yet received a license to operate some of them. Despite challenges getting on the record responses from the Newsom administration, Wiener wrote a compelling, deeply reported indictment of state agencies and the largest nursing home operator in California. In response, the federal government improved public access to nursing home violations data and the state Legislature conducted hearings into changes to laws that have thus far been inadequate to regulate this important industry.

And Byrhonda Lyons was a finalist for best reporting on racial justice for “In Absentia: No Latino Superior Court judges in these majority-Latino California counties.”

Lyons’ story puts a lens on a lesser known consequence of the lack of diversity in the criminal justice system. As the story notes: “For years, the focus on fairness and equity within the criminal justice system has been on policing, with far less scrutiny to the component of the justice system that wields vast power over attorneys, defendants and how cases are viewed by juries.”

In 2021 the Sacramento Press Club, in the inaugural awards contest, named CalMatters Capitol reporter Laurel Rosenhall Journalist of the Year. 

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