San José Spotlight won three 1st place awards from the Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards, an annual contest put on by the San Francisco Press Club.
The competition highlights the best print, digital and broadcast news reporting and media in the region. This news organization took part in the digital media category.
San José Spotlight received first place awards for Overall Excellence, Investigative Reporting and News Story.
“It’s great to have our team and work recognized by others in our field,” editor Nick Preciado said. “I think San Jose at times gets less attention than other large Bay Area cities, which makes it easy for issues such as corruption and inequality to go unnoticed. We’re here to expose it.”
San José Spotlight, a national leader among nonprofit newsrooms, was recognized for Overall Excellence through its tremendous impact in Silicon Valley last year by producing journalism that disrupted the status quo, uplifted marginalized voices, held power to account, ignited civic engagement and paved the way for lasting change.
We sued San Jose and its former mayor for improperly withholding public records, and scored a resounding victory when a judge ruled the city and mayor violated the law. During the nationally-watched San Jose mayor’s race, which became the costliest election in city history, we created a data tool to help readers “follow the money” and track how special interests are involved. We revealed how a former tech executive accused in a vicious stalking campaign wields power at San Jose City Hall, and uncovered how Santa Clara County politicians secretly appointed a CEO without transparency, forcing a revote. We followed a yearlong effort to clear the city’s largest homeless camp and explain where those folks ended up.
This news organization placed first in Investigative Reporting for its reporting on Gary Kremen, the founder of Match.com, former Valley Water board member and one of the world’s most powerful tech moguls who was also entrenched in Silicon Valley politics and a fixture in Democratic circles. While campaigning for county assessor, San José Spotlight uncovered that Kremen had shared unsolicited partially nude photos with a campaign staffer.
There was immediate fallout: Kremen ended his political campaign, and days later the water agency reported nearly a dozen complaints from employees who said he bullied, verbally assaulted and threatened them. Agency leaders launched an investigation that substantiated the claims and Kremen lost his seat in the next election.
San José Spotlight’s first place win for News Story highlights “The Tale of Two Silicon Valleys”—the stark difference between the haves and have-nots in one of the world’s wealthiest regions. While Silicon Valley is a tech capital with global influence, it’s home to a startling amount of poverty and inequality. The disparities and wealth gap are even greater among communities of color, minorities and immigrants, mostly concentrated in low-income and working-class neighborhoods in East San Jose.
The award recognized this news organization’s reporting on how most of the city’s deadliest streets are in East San Jose, yet the city is slow to fix them. Another story highlighted the underinvestment in school facilities as a fed-up teacher was forced to teach outside in the summer because a broken air conditioner turned her classroom into a sauna. A third story highlighted the neighborhood’s parking battles, underscoring a housing affordability crisis and how overcrowding, gentrification and poverty is diminishing quality of life for residents.
“It’s a labor of love,” San José Spotlight reporter Jana Kadah said. “We have the responsibility to shine a light on long-ignored problems and disenfranchised communities. We inform voters on local candidates and ballot measures. We follow the money and hold power to account. Winning awards like this is a reminder that not only do we take on that critical role our city so deeply deserves, but are doing it well.”
The 46th annual Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards received 544 entries from print, digital and campus publications. This year’s event took place on Dec. 13 at Elks Lodge No. 3 in San Francisco.
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