San José Spotlight wins national Publisher of the Year award

San José Spotlight this week won the prestigious Publisher of the Year award from the Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, recognizing our nonprofit newsroom among the top news publications in the country.

LION Publishers is an association of more than 300 independent online media operations across the U.S.

“This award reaffirms why we started San José Spotlight — to fill a gap in local news coverage in our hometown,” said co-founder and editor Ramona Giwargis. “To receive national recognition for our efforts is humbling and inspires us to work harder than ever to serve our community and tell the stories they can’t find anywhere else.”

The Publisher of the Year award recognizes publishers who provide excellent coverage of their community over a prolonged period of time. San José Spotlight was vying with the Tucson Sentinel and Montana Free Press.

Nearly 30 judges from across the industry evaluated newsrooms across the country for the LION Publishers 2020 awards.

Judges praised San José Spotlight for its editorial content, innovative business model and community partnerships, which drive a two-way conversation with readers and elevate the voices of the unheard — from communities of color to homeless residents.

“Wow, I am impressed with the Spotlight!” the judges wrote. “The writing is crisp, love the diversity of coverage, translation of English into Spanish and Vietnamese to reach their readers, use (of) podcasts, mobile app… what don’t they do? That two-way conversation with their community is so very important, something that a lot of publications have lost sight of.”

San José Spotlight was also named a finalist for its extensive coverage of COVID-19’s impact on Silicon Valley’s homeless encampments and disadvantaged East San Jose students, along with finalists Detour Detroit and Crosstown.

Since January 2019, San José Spotlight has produced more than 2,050 news and enterprise stories about policy, politics and government, including in-depth reports on housing, homelessness, racial inequity, COVID-19 education, immigration, business and more.

The national recognition comes months after San José Spotlight won four California Journalism Awards in an annual competition sponsored by the California News Publishers Association.

In addition to support from 2,500 individual donors, San José Spotlight has also garnered support from foundations including Renaissance Journalism, Knight Foundation, the Lenfest Institute for Journalism and the Facebook Journalism Project.

“This award is a testament to the hardworking staff of San José Spotlight. Now, more than ever, we have seen the value of a free press as they work to hold the powerful accountable to the people that they serve,” said Perla Rodriguez, chair of San José Spotlight’s Board of Directors. “Especially during these tumultuous times, we need to support their work as it uplifts us all.”

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