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Advocate wins 3 national awards, including top honor for community leadership

Oct. 17, 2009 at 5:17 a.m.
Updated Oct. 18, 2009 at 5:18 a.m.


The Victoria Advocate won three national awards for journalistic excellence, the Inland Press Association announced last week.

The Advocate earned its awards in the categories of community leadership, investigative reporting and front-page design.

In community leadership, the Advocate won first place for the second year in a row.

"This time they took on the deadly challenge of illegal immigrants being lured to work, and losing their lives in horrendous ways," the judges wrote. "Through an amazing number of stories that were well documented, written, designed and illustrated, the people of the region got a true taste of what was going on and what was being done to correct a deplorable situation.

"The project was called the Fatal Funnel, and Advocate public service editor Gabe Semenza dug deep into the complexities of immigration, drug trafficking, law enforcement and opposition faced when people disagreed with potential solutions. The multimedia team covered the series in every imaginable way - online, films, print newspaper - even a mass and a special song."

In investigative reporting, Advocate journalist Leslie Wilber took second place for "Does it pass the smell test?" In her two-month investigation, Wilber examined the questionable use of scent dogs in identifying criminal suspects.

The Advocate also placed third in front-page design after winning first in the category last year. Presentation editor Kimiko Fieg and multimedia editor Robert Zavala lead the Advocate's design team.

"The Advocate isn't the most beautiful or elegant of newspapers, but its front pages brim with energy and the local news is substantive," the judges wrote. "We specially liked the enterprise reporting on page one that looks out for people's interests - for instance, a story and graphic that used a fatal commercial bus crash to illuminate loopholes in the law; and a package about the lead hazards in racing bikes and ATVs for children under 12."

Founded in 1885, the Inland Press Association is a not-for-profit newspaper association and foundation. It is dedicated to advancing the welfare of its 1,126 member newspapers across all 50 states, Canada and Bermuda. Its goal is to enable newspapers to continue serving the people as a free, strong and responsible press.

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