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CDN’s work honored in Excellence in Journalism Contest

Prizes awarded in breaking news, sports features, photography and commentary

This photo of Lynden High School senior Jesse Stewart, who was born deaf, won first-place in Portrait Photography in the 2023 SPJ Excellence in Journalism contest. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)

Breaking news, enterprise, opinion and photojournalism produced by the staff of Cascadia Daily News was honored by peers in the 2023 SPJ Excellence in Journalism contest. CDN won seven awards in an array of categories in one of the nation’s largest, most highly competitive journalism contests, open to publications in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.

CDN’s news staff, entering work from its second year of operations, took both first and second place awards in Breaking News for its comprehensive coverage of Fairhaven’s tragic Terminal Building fire, as well as live coverage followed by a probing examination of local emergency responses to a wildfire on Lake Whatcom, with primary reporting by Audra Anderson.

Judges also honored CDN’s deeply reported, comprehensive coverage: The paper won first place in News Series for its influential special report, “Beyond Bars,” which highlighted decrepit conditions at the Whatcom County Jail and explored societal issues presented by shifting public attitudes toward social justice and incarceration. The project was reported by Ralph Schwartz with visuals by Hailey Hoffman.

In sports, CDN capitalized on global attention to the book and film “The Boys in the Boat” by telling the life stories of two key members of that history-making, gold-medal crew that sprung from modest means in Skagit and Whatcom counties. The comprehensive series, “Our Boys in the Boat,” by CDN contributor Meri-Jo Borzilleri, was awarded first prize in Sports Features.

CDN’s Opinion Page once again was singled out for excellence, with a repeat second-place award in Editorial & Commentary writing for Editorial Board endorsements that capped its Citizens Agenda coverage of the 2023 election.

Executive Editor Ron Judd was awarded second place in General Columns in an at-large category open to competition from media of all sizes in the Northwest Region. The featured columns were about the lack of public accountability in Bellingham Public Schools administration, an ode to the retiring Boeing 747, and Western Washington University’s shameful historical treatment of past university President Charles Fisher.

CDN’s visuals were recognized with a first-place award in Portrait Photography for a striking Andy Bronson image of Jesse Stewart, a deaf Lynden High School football player.

The locally owned newspaper competed in the contest’s “Medium” division (six to 20 full-time employees) comprising mostly midsized Northwest daily and larger weekly news organizations.

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