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S-R staff, coverage garner awards

Spokesman-Review staff took top awards in the Idaho Press Club and Best of the West journalism competitions recently. In addition, The Spokesman-Review was named the best newspaper in Idaho, with a first-place award in general excellence from the Idaho Press Club, and the company’s work on a project to highlight child abuse and neglect will be honored next month by the Seattle-based Children’s Alliance.

Individual award winners are:

•Staff photographer Dan Pelle, who won a first-place award in the Best of the West competition in the photo slide show category for “Going Long,” a story about a retiring Gonzaga Preparatory School football coach. Judges said the slideshow “was probably the only entry that told the full tale of a retiring coach in a concise way. From beginning to end, the photos and audio worked in tandem to tell the story.”

•Staff writers Betsy Z. Russell and Meghann M. Cuniff, who received a first-place award from the Idaho Press Club for their coverage of the Joseph Duncan sentencing trials last summer. The “special coverage” category recognizes comprehensive coverage of a special event.

In addition, Russell took third place in the Idaho Press Club’s Reporter of the Year category.

•Coeur d’Alene-based staff writer and columnist D.F. Oliveria, who took first place for best blog for Huckleberries Online.

Also at the Idaho Press Club ceremony Saturday, The Spokesman-Review, Russell and Idaho news media together received a first-place “First Amendment” award, recognizing their collective effort to ensure the Duncan hearings were conducted in open court. Attorneys for the news organizations filed arguments in federal court in favor of keeping open court proceedings after the judge in the case said he was considering closing the courtroom for some testimony.

Finally, the Children’s Alliance, a public policy advocacy organization, will present The Spokesman-Review with a 2009 Voices for Children award in June for its role in helping launch the “Our Kids: Our Business” campaign. That campaign is a cooperative effort of nonprofit agencies, local media and businesses to raise awareness of child abuse and neglect in the community.

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Freeman students march in unity to honor memory of slain classmate Sam Strahan

UPDATED: 6:07 p.m.

updated  Drenched in sunshine and a sharp spring wind, more than 70 students marched Friday out of Freeman High School behind a “Freeman Strong” banner to the same football field where they sheltered in fear last September following the shooting that killed 15-year-old Sam Strahan and injured three girls.