Peninsula media win Alaska Press Club awards

Awards include sweep of COVID-19 reporting category.

Kenai Peninsula reporters in print and radio won numerous Alaska Press Club awards on Saturday, April 30, including a sweep of the “Best Reporting on the COVID-19 Pandemic” category. The awards were announced in a virtual ceremony broadcast that night. During the ceremony, Kortnie Horazdovsky, vice president of the press club contest committee, took a moment to remember Jay Barrett, the former KBBI News Director who died in April.

The contest winners are:

Michael Armstrong, editor and reporter, Homer News:

• Leslie Ann Murray Award for Best Editorial or Commentary, second place, “School district’s optional mask policy, dress code allows coronavirus but not ‘Corona.’” Judge Tom Condon wrote: “Novel approach to making the case for safety of school children. Hard-hitting.”

Camille Botello, reporter, Kenai Peninsula Clarion:

• Best Reporting on the COVID-19 Pandemic, first place, “Borough mayor promotes debunked COVID treatments.” Judge Steve Reed wrote: “This is important journalism that illustrates the value of facts versus politically-inspired opinion. The contrast between life-saving treatments and life-threatening horse remedies is well documented in this entry.”

Second place, Best Reporting on the COVID-19 Pandemic, “Anti-masking graffiti found at River City Books.” Judge Steve Reed wrote: “The cowardly criminal acts to which a health-conscious local business was subjected deserved the attention provided by this public-service journalism.”

• Best Arts Reporting, second place, “Capturing history.” Judge Mike Dunhalm wrote: “Photographers explain their notable photos pertaining to pertinent current events.”

Jeff Helminiak, sports reporter, Kenai Peninsula Clarion:

• Best sports reporting, first place, “Lumen Christi sweeps Peninsula Conference titles.” Judge Paul Keane wrote: “Nice work. Covers all the main ingredients of a good story.”

• Second place, “Lafleur, Norris rack up more MMR crowns.” Keane wrote: “Nice work.”

Sarah Knapp, former reporter, Homer News:

Best Reporting on the COVID-19 Pandemic, third place, “COVID-19 patient says monoclonal antibody infusion saved her life.” Judge Steve Reed wrote: “A near-death experience documented. It could have been any of us.” Of entries in the category, he wrote, “The response to the pandemic included outstanding journalism.”

Best Reporting on Health, first place, “’Just keep going.’” Judge Brian McCrone: “Deserves credit for its examination of an issue that is new to its local readership, as the story illustrates. It is also well-reported as it goes from anecdotal to general overview of fertility and back to anecdotal.”

Jeff Lockwood, contributor, KBBI Radio:

• Best Long Form Audio Program or Podcast, first place, “Check the Pantry.” Judge Bob Collins wrote: “I can’t think of much harder tasks than trying to convey taste to an audience that obviously cannot taste or see. But this is expertly, and occasionally humorously done. It also made me dump out my old bottles of vermouth.”

Ashlyn O’Hara, reporter, Kenai Peninsula Clarion:

Best Reporting on Government or Politics, second place, “A very slippery slope that we need to be careful of.” Judge Justin Hinkley wrote: “The reporter delves headlong into a very controversial topic without fear or favor and provides readers important background and context to help them make their own decisions.”

Best Education Reporting, second place, “Repair costs rise as school facilities deteriorate.”

Sabine Poux, reporter, KDLL Radio:

• Best Reporting on Science, radio, first place, “As local streams warm, cold water inputs could be crucial for salmon.” Judge Paul Flahive wrote: “The story is clear, has good pacing and good use of sound.”

• Best Sports Reporting, radio, first place, “Seward swimming in hometown pride for its Olympic champ.” Judge Tom Goldman wrote: “Cream of the crop here. Nice dramatic writing by Sabine and she really captured the excitement and novelty of the moment. Gold medalist from Seward? Imagine that! While Sabine did a nice job of taking me the listener to the watch party, some of the production could’ve been smoother and the story could’ve been a minute shorter — but all in all a good effort and worthy of first place.”

Best Short Form Audio Program or Podcast, first place, Econ 919, Judge Julie Siple wrote: “A great variety of topics – the collection offers a nice window into “how the Kenai peninsula works.” Strong voicing, with a consistently warm, inviting read. And nice writing, especially in the dipnetting piece. I’m impressed that there’s just one person working on this program!

Nick Varney, columnist, Kenai Peninsula Clarion:

• Best humor, third place, “Unhinged Alaska: The inside story regarding moose.” Linda Levin wrote: “Well-written, informative and, well, it’s about moose. Laugh and learn.”

Reach Michael Armstrong at