Sun-Star, Los Banos Enterprise bring home several statewide journalism awards

The Sun-Star won seven first- or second-place awards in the California Newspaper Publishers Association annual Better Newspaper Contest.

It also placed six entries among finalists for the awards.

"These prizes, like all the journalistic awards we've won, represent hard work, teamwork and talent in our newsroom and the strong support of our publisher," said Mike Tharp, executive editor. "They provide more evidence that the Sun-Star mantra is working: 'We're too small to fail!'"

The Los Banos Enterprise, under publisher Gene Lieb, won first place in General Excellence among weeklies, after winning second place in the category last year. "It's a team effort and a McClatchy win," Lieb said. "It takes everyone working together to win a General Excellence award."

The Enterprise also won second place in Page Layout and Design/Broadsheet.

Sun-Star reporter Danielle Gaines won first place in the Feature Story competition for her story, "A night to remember," about a unique prom date. Corinne Reilly, now a reporter at the Virginian Pilot, won first place in Investigative/Enterprise Reporting for her story, "It was a matter of time," about the fatal stabbing of a corrections officer in 2008 at U.S. Penitentiary, Atwater.

The newspaper also won first place for Page Layout and Design. News copy desk members include Jesse Chenault, copy chief; Bob Harris, Keith Jones and Mike Gale. James Burns, Sean Lynch and Shawn Jansen lay out the sports section.

Jonah Owen Lamb won second place in Freedom of Information category for his story about racist e-mails passed along by an Atwater council member.

The Sun-Star's Special Issue on first lady Michelle Obama's commencement speech at UC Merced also won a second-place award; the newspaper also won a second place in Front Page and a second place in General Excellence.

Other Sun-Star finalists:

July 26, 2008, "Is a bottom in sight?"

June 24, 2009, "Young stars of the circus" by Bea Ahbeck

Oct. 10, 2009, "Hope for Youth Debutante Ball"

Sept. 5, 2009, "Golden Valley wide receiver" by Lisa James

Feb. 18, 2009, "Livestrong campaign inspires cancer survivors" by James Burns

July 6, 2009, "Inmates, family bond despite bars" by Jonah Owen Lamb