This time last year, I thought that I'd probably never work for another newspaper. I'd had a long career, and figured I was going to be happier freelancing. Then I met Heidi Walters, Ryan Burns, Andrew Goff, Bob Doran, Holly Harvey, Judy Hodgson, Carolyn Fernandez and the whole amazing crew who make the North Coast Journal what it is.
The people who can bounce from intelligent, nuanced storytelling to hardass reporting to just being funny as hell.
And here they all are, in Humboldt, where my husband and I had been planning to move for years anyway.
The Journal has long been a fine weekly with moments of greatness, and it showed that again last week, when the awards envelope arrived from the California Newspaper Publishers Association's Better Newspapers Contest.
Compared with weeklies of similar circulation, the Journal shone, from design to photos to feature writing to business writing. We placed first or second (we'll know which in May) in seven categories, and advanced to the top 10 percent of entries in another three categories.
On the news side, Burns took first or second place in four different categories, including best feature story for "Caged," his account of a media op at Pelican Bay State Prison, woven together with thoughtful reporting on whether the profound isolation inside is torture. He also ranked in the top two for local government coverage for wrapping up the Jefferson School saga in "The Council that Kicked the Hornets' Nest;" in business coverage for "Truce," on marijuana growers and government officials who worked together on a growing ordinance; and in youth coverage for "Generational Divide in Trinidad," about a raucous skateboard park fundraiser.
Zach St. George, who debuted here while still attending Humboldt State, placed first or second in environmental coverage for "Shooting Owls," a look at a pilot project to save one owl species by killing another.
Harvey, the Journal's art director, took one of the top two graphic illustration slots for "Species Rising," an evocative intermingling of birds and fish.
Goff, the sly satirist who also happens to be our calendar editor/comic artist/writer/photographer, placed first or second in nature photography for "Whales. In a River."
Rounding out our stable of talent, Walters and Goff won a certificate of achievement, for reaching the top 10 percent of entries, in local breaking news for their team-written article on a mother and baby whale that lingered in the Klamath River. Goff also received a certificate for his 7-0-Heaven comic, and the entire production team was awarded a certificate for best page layout and design.
I'm so glad I'm here, working with all of them.