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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokesman-Review staff earn top regional journalism awards

May 29, 2022 Updated Tue., June 7, 2022 at 6:11 p.m.

A rainbow is seen next to The Spokesman-Review's tower on Sunday, April 25, 2021.   (Libby Kamrowski/ THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
A rainbow is seen next to The Spokesman-Review's tower on Sunday, April 25, 2021.  (Libby Kamrowski/ THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW) Buy this photo
From staff reports

Spokesman-Review staff members recently took top honors in seven categories of the 2021 Society of Professional Journalists Excellence in Journalism Awards while writers posted second-place finishes in three others.

Washington bureau reporter Orion Donovan-Smith won in the Breaking News category for his coverage of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and the Washington and Idaho congressional delegation members’ response.

Arielle Dreher and Donovan-Smith earned first place in Health & Science Reporting for stories showing how flaws in a new electronic health record system being tested at Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane threatened patients’ safety.

Amber D. Dodd earned top honors in two categories. Her coverage of missing and murdered Indigenous people in Idaho placed first in Social Equity Reporting, and her story about Iraqi refugee and Spokane boxer Fadya Hakare was judged the best Sports Feature.

Photographer Tyler Tjomsland took first place in Sport Action Photography for his photo of a WSU running back propelled into the air by a tackle. Tjomsland also placed first in the Photo Essay category for his images of a team’s search for a Moses Lake hiker missing for nearly two years in Snoqualmie National Forest.

Eli Francovich also was recognized for his story about the search, which was judged Best Feature: Hard News.

Spokesman-Review newsroom members earning second-place honors were:

• Greg Mason, Education Reporting, for “Tearing Out the Red Turf: Dropping EWU Football.”

• Donovan-Smith and Francovich, garnered recognition in two categories – Environment & Natural Disaster Reporting as well as Series – for their coverage of the debate surrounding Snake River Dams.

Executive Editor Rob Curley noted the high number of first-place finishes and the work of the journalists behind them.

“You look at this list of winners and it’s clear these stories and photos had an impact in our community, whether it was through actions taken in response to their reporting, or by giving much louder voices to those who need to be heard, or by showing local sports fans that this newspaper continues to be blessed with one of the best photo staffs in the nation,” Curley said.

He also said it was “powerful” that several of the journalists who won these awards are in positions funded completely by the Spokane-area community.

“Our community made it clear the kinds of stories it wished we could tell more and then found a way to help us make it happen.” Curley said. “Those stories aren’t owned by this newspaper; they are owned by our community. That kind of support is why I truly believe this is one of the most unique newsrooms in the nation.”

The annual competition showcases the work of journalists in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Alaska. The Spokesman-Review competed in the competition’s X-Large Newsroom Division, which includes such news organizations as the Seattle Times and the Oregonian in Portland.

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