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Advocate wins 2 state awards for autism series

July 14, 2012 at 2:14 a.m.


The Victoria Advocate was honored this week by the Texas Medical Association for its 2011 "Missing Pieces: Exploring the Puzzle of Autism" series.

The series, written by Advocate health reporter/features editor J.R. Ortega and videographed and photographed by former Advocate intern Kathleen Duncan, focused on four families each coping with an autistic family member.

In the association's Anson Jones Awards, the newspaper earned a citation of merit for the online/mixed media category and an honorable mention was for the in-depth print category.

The Advocate competed against newspapers of all circulation sizes across Texas.

The judges of the contest are former journalists and physicians.

One judge commented the series sparks readers to want to do more for the autistic population in their community.

"Very well done package," another judge wrote. "The stories, in dramatic fashion, draw the reader into the lives of these people and the people around them. ... Overall this is a solid effort of a very good human interest topic and very important for people to understand. Excellent series."

This the second year the Advocate has received awards in this contest. Ortega received a citation of merit in 2011 for a 2010 story on Alzheimer's. Advocate multimedia editor Robert Zavala, former interactivity editor CJ Castillo, former education reporter Erica Rodriguez and former multimedia intern Drew Stewart also received a citation of merit for the online mixed/media category for "A Father's Strength" series, chronicling one man's journey with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

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