Stars Shine at Awards Gala

Monday, June 28, 2010 2:18 PM

Pictures from Awards Gala *** Full list of winners *** WATCH VIDEO

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and presenters Sean Penn, Wendie Malick and Stana Katic brought unprecedented celebrity flair Sunday to the Los Angeles Press Club’s 52nd Annual Southern California Journalism Awards, but it was the scores of local journalists gathered at the historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel who were the real stars.

The night’s top honorees included CNN’s Anderson Cooper, NPR’s Anne Garrels and veteran television reporter Dave Bryan of CBS2/KCAL9.

Penn had flown in from ongoing relief efforts in Haiti to present Cooper with the club’s President’s Award for overall media impact.

“Journalism matters more than ever,” Cooper told this reporter as he left the hotel’s elegant Crystal Ballroom, due back on the Gulf Coast to continue live coverage of the BP oil spill disaster. “In this day and age it’s crucially important that we keep telling stories — going out there, seeing things for ourselves and telling others about it.”

Penn praised Cooper for trustworthiness and diligence equivalent to broadcast legends Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite — that, and “he’s more fit than either of them.”

Garrels, who received the Daniel Pearl Award for Courage and Integrity in Journalism from the slain journalist’s father Judea Pearl, used the opportunity to praise Daniel and all journalists who put themselves at risk in pursuit of truth.

Bryan received the Joseph M. Quinn Award for Journalistic Excellence and Distinction after a lively introduction by venerable colleague Pat Harvey.

In the broadcast field, KNBC’s Ana Garcia and Fred Mamoun shared Television Journalist of the Year honors, while KCET staffers walked away with an impressive collection of first-place awards for investigative, feature, sports, entertainment, public affairs and documentary reporting. (Garcia also shared the podium as a presenter alongside LA Weekly Deputy Editor of News and Press Club Treasurer Jill Stewart.)

Pasadena’s KPPC 89.3-FM was the big story in the radio category, with six awards, including honors for Anchor of the Year to Alex Cohen and or Radio Journalist of the Year to Molly Peterson.

In the Online Journalism category, Truthdig made its presence felt with several first place awards, including for Best Website (Exclusive to the Internet, with a budget over $10,000) as well as for Online Commentary to Chris Hedges and for Online Sports News to Mark Heisler.

Before announcing veteran print journalist Bill Boyarsky as Online Journalist of the Year for his work at Truthdig, presenter Michael Linder of KABC radio joked: “You’re probably thinking somebody under 30? A real hip techno-baby, right? You’d be way wrong.” Fellow Truthdigger Robert Scheer was runner up.

“It was a great event, the best of the many press club awards I have attended, and I was especially pleased to see Dave Bryan recognized for his achievements,” said Boyarsky. “And of course, being named Online Journalist of the Year was especially satisfying to me — as Pat [Harvey] said, scoring ‘one for the way-cool dinosaurs!’ The presence of so many outstanding print, broadcast and online participants shows the strength of L.A.-area journalism in these difficult times.”

Helping prove Boyarsky’s point, print categories offered diverse and extensive lists of winners.

But the night belonged as much to anyone as L.A. Daily Journal reporter Greg Katz, who won several awards including Reporter of the Year for papers with circulations up to 50,000 and the night’s $1,000 Best in Show Prize. “I wasn’t expecting any of this,” said a slightly bewildered Katz after that final announcement.

In the upper circulation division, the Los Angeles Times took home several honors, including Alana Semuels for Print Reporter of the Year and Harriet Ryan for Entertainment Reporter of the Year. Designer of the Year went to OC Weekly’s Kelly Lewis. Reporters for the LA Weekly, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Daily News of Los Angeles and La Opinion were also winners.

Among smaller print publications, the Los Angeles Business Journal took home four first-place awards, and the Pasadena Weekly took home three. The L.A. Downtown News, Jewish Journal, Pasadena Star-News and The Remnant were also represented, as was Amy Alkon (aka The Advice Goddess) for her syndicated column.

In art categories, photographer Ted Soqui, cartoonist Steve Greenberg (now with the Ventura County Reporter) and Jeff Gritchen of the Long Beach Press-Telegram took home awards, and L.A. Daily News photographer Jim McCoy took home two.

Meanwhile, Richard Siklos of Fortune magazine was a big winner in the magazine category, with three first-place awards for investigative, feature and entertainment reports.

L.A. City College’s The Collegian was named Best Student Newspaper and staffer Mars Melnicoff won for Best Writing. USC’s Annenberg Radio News came out on top in the student category for both Best Website and Best News Broadcast (Radio), while the Trojans’ Annenberg TV News won for Best News Broadcast (TV).

The evening began with cocktails and a silent auction to benefit the Press Club, and comedienne Judy Tenuta warmed up the crowd.

Schwarzenegger’s opening remarks lavished praise on members of the press for fulfilling their watchdog role and called for continued diligence in covering the ongoing gubernatorial campaign to replace him.

“When I think about the kind of information I get from you and your write-ups, it’s extraordinary. You’re the ones who expose the problems we have in government,” he said. “This room is full of talented people and I want to say thank you to all of you.”

With all the talent in the room, the Governator apparently couldn’t resist one last Hollywood promise regarding future Los Angeles Press Club events: “I’ll be back,” he said.

/ Joe Piasecki
Joe Piasecki is a fellow with USC Annenberg’s Specialized Journalism Program, freelance writer and contributing editor for the Pasadena Weekly. Contact him at piasecki@usc.edu.

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