The Modesto Bee staff won three first-place awards over the weekend in the 2012 Better Newspapers Contest sponsored by the California Newspaper Publishers Association.
The Bee was honored for Breaking News coverage, Best Editorial Comment and Best Sports Story.
The Breaking News award was for the first three days of coverage — in print and on the modbee.com website — of the killing of a Stanislaus County sheriff's deputy and civilian locksmith during an eviction attempt in Modesto on April 12, 2012.
The Bee's reporting, photo, production and multimedia staffs all were involved in covering the incident, in which deputy Bob Paris and locksmith Glendon Engert were gunned down by James Ferrario, who shot them through the front door of his Modesto townhouse. That led to an 11-hour standoff that ended with Ferrario committing suicide before his home was engulfed in flames.
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The commentary award honors Opinion Pages Editor Judy Sly, who wrote an essay
March 4, 2012, comparing the financial situations of Modesto and Stockton, its bankrupt neighbor to the north. Sly's editorial commended Modesto leaders and city staff for their fiscal prudence in spending, labor contracts and pension promises.
The sports award went to James Burns, who wrote a compelling piece Sept. 9, 2012, about Riverbank High football coach Jimmy Oliver and his attempt to provide mentors to many of his players whose fathers were not part of their lives.
"It's always flattering to be honored by our peers in the news business," said Joseph Kieta, The Bee's editor. "Journalists in The Bee's newsroom work hard each day to provide quality content both online and in print, and the work behind these awards represents a fantastic showcase for what we can do."
Eric Johnston, The Bee's publisher and president, echoed Kieta's comments. "These awards speak to the quality journalism we are committed to providing to our communities," he said.
The annual contest recognizes print and multimedia journalism for daily and weekly newspapers from across California.
There are four circulation sizes for daily papers; The Bee competes in the 35,001 to 150,000 category.