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Top row (left to right): Sarah Hoenicke (’19), Nebiat Assefa Melles (’18), Brian Krans (’18), JoeBill Muñoz (’19), Angeline Bernabe (’18), Jackeline Luna (’18), J.P. Dobrin (’19) Middle row (left to right): Drew Costley (’19), Alessandra Bergamin (’18), Olivia Rempel (’18), Alex Nieves (’19), Cecilia Lei (’19), Serginho Roosblad (’18), Lauren Schwartzman (’18) Middle row, lower section (left to right): Jacob Shea (’18), Rosa Furneaux (’18) Bottom row (left to right): Sarah Cahlan (’19), Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou (’18), Alex Orlando (’18), Sonner Kehrt (’18), Anna Clausen (’18), Susie Neilson (’19), Sam Goldman (’19)

We’re proud of the recognition Berkeley Journalism students get from outside entities, ranging from Student Oscars to Emmy Awards to Online News Association prizes. But every year we also convene representatives of our own community–teachers and alums–to decide whom they want to single out for outstanding work that exemplifies what the School itself most values. These are the Excellence Awards, given by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism to recognize student journalism that combines professional quality with public importance. Monetary rewards, funded by donors, vary.

Here are the 2018 winners:

 

Jessica Lum Memorial Award for Excellence in Multimedia Reporting and Production

Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou (‘18) – “Alone”
Cameras aren’t allowed inside San Francisco’s immigration court. If they were, they’d show children standing in front of judges by themselves, facing deportation without the help of lawyers in a legal system they cannot understand. Children from California’s Central Valley have even less chance of finding a lawyer to stand by their side. That is, if they are lucky enough to find their way to court on their own.

 

Randy Shilts Memorial Award for Exceptional Reporting

J.P. Dobrin (‘19) – “Chulha Trap
The largest source of air pollution in India is wood-burning fires for cooking, which pose serious health risks to over 500 million people. Prime Minister Modi’s government took a big step in 2015 to address the country’s pervasive air pollution by giving every impoverished household a free gas stove. Dobrin examines how well that program is working. He produced the video as part of the Nirupama Chatterjee India Travel Class.

Alex Nieves (‘19) and JoeBill Muñoz (‘19) – “Vacant, Neglected, Destructive: How Richmond’s abandoned homes became fire hazards” (Richmond Confidential, January 2018)
This multimedia package was based on a three-month, public-records-laden investigation into the circumstances behind an event that might have gone unnoticed: a vacant home fire that displaced a Richmond, Calif., family. The investigation found the city negligent in its handling of many vacant homes and, in this case, discovered that a con artist with a criminal record took advantage of the housing crisis to buy the house and let it fall into shambles. The package included moving interviews with the people who lived next door whose lives were impacted powerfully by the city’s negligence.

 

Robert Whittington Award for Exceptional Reporting

Susie Neilson (‘19) – “Twins, Twice as Good: The Tale of Abe and Solly Krok”
This story chronicles the rise and fall of the Krok brothers, a pair of twins in South Africa who made a fortune from skin-lightening products with problematic side-effects–funds they later used to bankroll the country’s famous apartheid museum.

Sarah Hoenicke (‘19), Drew Costley (‘19), Sarah Cahlan (‘19) – “Black Infants in the East Bay Are Experiencing Higher Negative Health Outcomes” (East Bay Express, January 2018)
A multimedia story of inequality in the East Bay’s maternal health care system.

 

Bernard Taper Memorial Award in Longform Journalism

Sam Goldman (’19) – “Skating on Thin Ice”
Less than 20 years ago, organized women’s ice hockey did not exist in India. “Skating on Thin Ice” is the story of how one of India’s most remote regions turned frozen ponds, borrowed equipment, and a less-than-shoestring budget into an internationally competitive team.

 

Jonathan Kaminsky Memorial Award

Cecilia Lei (‘19) – “The Treatment Industrial Complex” (East Bay Express, February 2018)
After months of reporting and filing public records requests for state contracts, Lei looks at how a notorious private prison company landed a multimillion-dollar contract to provide inmate re-entry services.

 

Clay Felker Award for Excellence in Longform Journalism

Alex Orlando (‘18) – “Sensory Overload” (San Francisco Magazine, January 2018)
A profile of celebrity neuroscientist David Eagleman, who claims his technology can rewire the human brain.

Sonner Kehrt (‘18) – “At Querino Canyon Bridge”
A compelling story on why so many Native Americans go missing and how little attention is paid.

 

Wayne F. Miller Award for Excellence in Photojournalism

Rosa Furneaux (‘18) – “Where There’s Smoke
On a cold night in December 2016, a huge fire tore through a warehouse dance party in Oakland, Calif. It was the deadliest blaze in the city’s history; 36 people died. The tragedy became known as the Ghost Ship Fire. That winter, not far away, a small group of recruits were training to become Oakland firefighters. Furneaux followed Class 2-16 through their 18-week academy, as they became the first recruit class to graduate after the tragedy.

 

North Gate Award for Excellence in Video Reporting and Production

Angeline Bernabe (‘18) and Jackeline Luna (‘18) – “32”
Of the nearly 1,000 photographs of women—many nude and some who appeared to be unconscious or dead—discovered hidden in the Grim Sleeper’s home in South Los Angeles, 32 remain unidentified. The search for their identities has come to a standstill more than a year and half after Lonnie David Franklin Jr. was found guilty of murdering nine women and one teenage girl over more than two decades in South Los Angeles.

 

North Gate Award for Excellence in Audio Reporting and Production

Anna Marsibil Clausen (‘18) – “60 Seconds Remaining”
An intimate story about what it’s like to wait for death on California’s death row, where condemned inmates are currently more likely to die of natural causes, suicide, or even an overdose than be executed.

 

North Gate Award for Excellence in Documentary Production

Serginho Roosblad (‘18) – “The Maze”
The MacArthur Maze is one of the most important freeway interchanges in California. As the gateway to one of the nation’s busiest bridges, the Bay Bridge between San Francisco and the East Bay, it allows 300,000 vehicles each day to travel throughout the Bay Area and beyond. But the Maze also cuts through four distinct landscapes that each tell a story of separation and connection.

Lauren Schwartzman (‘18) – “Dust Rising”
Dust, that most quotidian of things, has more power than you ever imagined. From human health to ecosystem function, discover the huge impact of tiny specks — and how that’s expected to shift as the Earth’s climate changes.

 

Knight Award for Best Reporting on a Science or Environmental Subject

Jacob Shea (‘18) – “Life Amid the Levees” (Earth Island Journal, Winter 2018, cover story)
Will the California Delta survive the pressures of a thirsty state?

Nebiat Assefa Melles (‘18) and Olivia Rempel (‘18) – “The Blue Devil
An invasive plant is spreading across Ethiopia’s largest lake. This film takes you to the frontline of this environmental catastrophe and shows how the community is working to stop the infestation and save the lake.

 

Gobind Behari Lal Award for Excellence in Reporting on a Science or Health Related Story

Alessandra Bergamin (‘18) – “An Unknown Epidemic Arrives in America”
Since the late 1990s, researchers have been tracking a kidney disease of uncertain origin that has killed more than 20,000 people—mostly men under the age of 45—along the Pacific Coast of Latin America. No one expected to see it reach the U.S. Then, patients began arriving in the emergency room of a Houston hospital by the hundreds.

 

Reva and David Logan Prize for Excellence in Investigative Reporting

Brian Krans (‘18) – “Who Will Be There When You Call 911? Our Writer Plunges Into the World of For-Profit Ambulances” (East Bay Express, July 2017)
From kickback schemes to political battles, Alameda County’s emergency medical system has its share of issues. A detailed look at the problems with Alameda County’s 911 system, the influence of a for-profit ambulance lobby, and the emergency workers caught in the middle.

 

Susan Rasky Memorial Award for Journalistic Excellence in Political Reporting

Brian Krans (‘18) – “Who Will Be There When You Call 911? Our Writer Plunges into the World of For-Profit Ambulances” (East Bay Express, July 2017)
From kickback schemes to political battles, Alameda County’s emergency medical system has its share of issues. A detailed look at the problems with the county’s 911 system, the influence of a for-profit ambulance lobby, and the emergency workers caught in the middle.

 

Alfred Hopkins Award for Reporting in Latin America

Alessandra Bergamin (‘18) – “An Unknown Epidemic Arrives in America”
Since the late 1990s, researchers have been tracking a kidney disease of uncertain origin that has killed more than 20,000 people—mostly men under the age of 45—along the Pacific Coast of Latin America. No one expected to see it reach the U.S. Then, patients began arriving in the emergency room of a Houston hospital by the hundreds.

 

Alumni and Faculty Judges

Fay Abuelgasim (‘12), Video Journalist, Associated Press

Becca Andrews (‘15), Assistant News Editor, Mother Jones

Pauline Bartolone (‘07), Reporter, Kaiser Health News / California Heathline

Charlotte Buchen (‘07), Head of Video, Timeline

Ana Campoy (‘02), Latin America Reporter, Quartz

Lydia Chavez, Professor, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

Christopher Connelly (‘12), Reporter, KERA Radio

April Dembosky (’08), Health Reporter, KQED Public Radio

Deirdre English, Lecturer, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

Steve Fisher (‘14), Freelance Investigative Reporter

Cassandra Herrman (‘01), Documentary Producer

Jonathan Jones (‘05), Independent Investigative Reporter

Jenn Kahn (‘00), Lecturer, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

Sukey Lewis (‘15), Producer and Reporter, KQED

Ken Light, Professor, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

Carrie Lozano (‘05), Director, IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund

Byrhonda Lyons (‘13), Video Producer, Cal Matters

Andy Mannix (’15), Investigative Reporter, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Marcos Martinez (‘17), Digital Journalist, BBC

Megan Molteni (’13), Science Writer, WIRED

Joe Mullin (‘06), Writer, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

Brett Murphy (‘16), Investigative Reporter, USA Today

Spencer Nakasako, Documentary Lecturer, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

Jake Nicol (‘15), Video Journalist, The Wall Street Journal

Chris O’Dea, Director of Production, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

Mallory Pickett (‘16), Independent Journalist

Emilie Raguso (‘06), Senior Reporter, Berkeleyside

Jeremy Rue (’07), Assistant Dean and Lecturer, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

Mike Shen, Senior Editor, Citizen Film

Marlena Telvick, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

Edward Wasserman, Dean, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

Jieqian Zhang (‘16), Multimedia Editor, The Wall Street Journal