In summary

The Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists honored CalMatters’ work.

Our environmental coverage recently won two first-place awards from the Northern California Society of Professional Journalists.

Reporter Julie Cart took top explanatory reporting honors in the large print/digital division for “Trial by Fire,” an account of the fatigue and trauma California firefighters endure — including suicide, PTSD and other mental health issues — as the state’s wildfires become more severe and frequent. The series was edited by Deputy Editor Marla Cone.

Independent judges described the work as “a thorough and compelling — and at times heartbreaking — account of the fatigue and trauma California firefighters endure as the state’s wildfires become more severe and frequent.”

The series, judges added, used “high quality photos, videos, illustrations, and data visualizations” to explain “an expansive and unaddressed problem that suggests a broken, depleted fire service…operating in a state that seems in perpetual combustion.”

Reporters Rachel Becker, Nadia Lopez and Cart took top honors in the  environmental reporting category. Our entry on their behalf included stories on marijuana growers stealing water, drought farming, groundwater issues, air quality and environmental justice, and reducing the carbon footprint of cement production. Their stories were edited by Cone.

This work stood out to judges who said they were “unanimously impressed by the excellence of the five stories in CalMatters’ entry, all translated into Spanish.”

Judges also wrote that the “clear writing, deep data and compelling quotes from affected communities meet the highest standards of environment reporting on air-pollution and protection of natural resources. Research into new ways to produce cement and find drought-tailored crops exemplify how fascinating stories drive solutions. The originality of a story on thieves stealing water to grow marijuana lures readers into understanding the loss of a precious resource.”

One judge commented, “Makes me want to learn more about our environment and seek CalMatters as my source.”

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Sonya builds bridges between the community and CalMatters as director of membership and engagement. Previously she managed engagement, fundraising, marketing, digital storytelling and UX at Voice of OC,...