In summary

CalMatters has won four more journalism awards, this time in the Best of the West contest recognizing work in 14 states. The contest was founded in 1987 to reward journalistic excellence and promote freedom of information.

CalMatters journalists have been honored with awards for a groundbreaking series on the trauma faced by those fighting wildfires, for a live California data dashboard on water and for a series examining wage theft.

The honors are in the Best of the West contest awarding journalism excellence in 14 western states, with about 1,200 entries annually.

Growth and environment reporting, First Place

CalMatters reporter Julie Cart won for her series “Trial by fire: The trauma of fighting California’s wildfires.”

“An amazing series about the psychological price paid by the California Fire Service because of the escalating intensity and frequency of wildfires caused by climate change,” the judge wrote.

“A terrific example of beat reporting that leads to unprecedented access to a group therapy session by Cal Fire firefighters, gasp-worthy stats and quotes, and ability to write with authority about complex topics and take the reader inside a new world as if they were right there in the thick of a forest fire. Beautiful writing. Ryan’s story was gut-wrenching.”

Feature Writing, Long Form, First Place

Julie’s series also won first place in feature writing. “A knockout series on a subject on which more people need to be informed,” the judge wrote.

Informational Graphic, First Place

The CalMatters data journalist team of Jeremia Kimelman, John Obsborn D’Agostino and Erica Yee won for “Tracking California’s water supplies.”

“The ‘California Drought and Water Tracker’ by CalMatters is a sophisticated presentation of a huge amount of data,” the judge wrote. “The amount of information being conveyed in presentation would be overwhelming if not for the way in which the interface is designed.”

“The presentation includes maps, diagrams, charts, graphs, tables, timelines and data visualizations that help readers understand the complexities of the issues impacting water in California. I particularly liked the sophisticated way in which maps came alive with information throughout the presentation. Really great job bringing a huge volume of data to life!”

Social Justice Reporting, Second Place

The CalMatters’ California Divide team won for “Unpaid Wages: A Waiting Game.”

The judge praised the story package on wage theft for “its methodical, well-told chronicling of how wages are routinely stolen from some of the state’s hardest workers who keep our society afloat

“Labor reporting is too often overlooked, as are low-wage employees who don’t speak English or are vulnerable to exploitation,” the judge added. “‘Unpaid Wages: A Waiting Game’ makes sure these stories are told and has already ensured accountability.”

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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,...