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Journalism is not a one-way form of communication. Once a story publishes, readers (and a few who definitely did not read) let us know what they think. Strangers, subjects, sources, coworkers, friends and the somewhat less friendly regularly tell us what they value, are curious about, and what they agree or disagree with in the Journal.

And once a year, we get a more formal response in the form of the California News Publishers Association awards. The results are valuable to us in that they are determined by our peers, judged by writers, designers and editors from the ranks of the CNPA's 382 member papers. We are proud of the awards the Journal earned this year and of the work that went into them from every person who makes that work possible in sales, administration, production, distribution and editorial.

News Editor Thadeus Greenson's coverage of the debacle surrounding building violations in "The Schneider Permits" won a Second Place in Coverage of Local Government with the judge calling it a "fascinating probe into the can of worms that is land use permitting." (Those worms continue to wriggle, so expect follow-up reporting.) Greenson's "Title IX" took First Place for In-Depth Reporting, diving into Cal Poly Humboldt's response to a student athlete's complaint of assault. "Brilliantly executed in-depth coverage of one college's failure to stand behind sexual assault victims and the fallout from the college president's mischaracterization of Title IX objectives," wrote the category's judge, noting the community impact of asking "the right questions."

"This was an important piece that was done justice by both the effective use of language to the eye-catching art direction," wrote the judge who awarded Digital Editor Kimberly Wear's "Coming Home," about the return of California condors to Humboldt skies, Third Place for Feature Story. (This one is special to us — more than a simple good-news story, Wear took us inside a historic moment for the North Coast, our ecosystem and the Yurok Tribe.)

Linda Stansberry has been elbow-deep in the issues surrounding Humboldt's skilled nursing facilities for years. So we're proud to see her story "Pain and Profit" take First Place in Investigative Reporting in all weekly circulation categories, and Third Place among all publications, including the work of large daily papers' investigative reporting teams, like the Los Angeles Times', which took first. One judge called it, "Truly impressive reporting that took so much digging and ingenuity to expose a truly devious financial scheme and the systemic failures that allowed it to happen, hurting some of the most vulnerable people." We couldn't agree more.

For the fifth time, the Journal took home First Place for Arts & Entertainment Coverage in all circulation categories — papers big and small — on the strength of Calendar Editor Kali Cozyris' relentless hunting, gathering and curating of local events for our extensive calendar, and the contributions of our cadre of freelance writers and photographers, including weekly columns like Setlist by Collin Yeo and Screens by John J. Bennett.

The Seriously? Satire column by Arts and Features Editor Jennifer Fumiko Cahill, meanwhile, snagged First Place in Columns — a first for the Journal and likely also one for CNPA, which we don't believe has previously honored articles written in the voices of a narcissistic cat or an Elf on the Shelf. (To be fair, though, it's unlikely a narcissistic cat and an Elf on the Shelf have never offered such insightful commentary on the gaslighting of our current political climate nor the perils of 21st century holiday parenting.)

Production Manager Holly Harvey's "44 Feet" image, a visual representation of the distance between current sea level and PG&E's concrete vault holding 37 tons of nuclear waste above Humboldt Bay, took First Place for Informational Graphic among weeklies of all circulation sizes. She translated that distance, by the way, to most of a gray whale, seven and a half Guy Fieris (hair not included) and a little more than three T-Rexes, all of which feel a little too close.

But bringing local stories close — sometimes uncomfortably so — is our goal. And while annual awards granted by our peers in newsrooms around the state are gratifying, the flow of feedback from our readers and neighbors here in Humboldt is both steadier and more to our purpose. After all, it is our shared community's arts we celebrate, our loved ones living in those skilled nursing facilities, our land and local history being razed, our children protected or pushed aside by educational institutions, our homes dizzyingly close to nuclear waste and our skies condors are crossing once again.

We thank you, our readers, for sharing your stories (sometimes over the phone, sometimes over the coffee shop register), engaging with us and sending emails to the Mailbox to make yourselves heard in our paper.

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill (she/her) is the arts and features editor at the Journal. Reach her at (707) 442-1400, extension 320, or [email protected].

Thadeus Greenson (he/him) is the Journal's news editor. Reach him at (707) 442-1400, extension 321, or [email protected].

Kimberly Wear (she/her) is the Journal's digital editor. Reach her at 442-1400, extension 323, or [email protected].

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