The KCAW News Department won a record 11 awards at the 2019 meeting of the Alaska Press Club in April. Our colleagues at the Daily Sitka Sentinel brought home 3, cementing the fact that — for a town of its size (or any size, really!) — Sitka values exceptional journalism.

Here are the winners for KCAW News:

1st Place:

Best Headline Writing (All Media) – Robert Woolsey

“‘Lost Hobbit Hole’ Hiker is there and back again thanks to infrared radar”

Over the last decade the craft of “webbing” news stories has become increasingly important in the world of broadcast journalism, as more and more of our audience reads local news online. The headline is the messenger that delivers a story to the audience — and often the headline IS the story. KCAW’s news director Robert Woolsey has been in the top three in this the last two years; this year he took first.

KCAW’s five-part series on the Cost of Living took first for Comprehensive Coverage among radio and television stations.

Best Comprehensive Coverage (Radio & Television) – Emily Kwong, Katherine Rose, Rachel Cassandra

“The Cost of Living in Sitka”

Every news organization works to create the space and time to take a deep dive into an important issue. Examining the cost of living in Sitka was a top priority of KCAW reporter Emily Kwong. She produced this award-winning series, with stories by Katherine Rose and Rachel Cassandra.

Best Humor (All Media) – John Straley, Finn Straley, Caitlin Woolsey, Robert Woolsey

“Who’s Naughty now? Santa investigated in North Pole wish list leak”

KCAW’s annual Christmas Eve improv interview by the father-son team (John and Finn Straley) that brought us “Genuine Mouse Radio” in the 1990s continues to boldly go where no St. Nick has gone before — with props to “spokeself” Caitlin Woolsey. Judge Linda Levin wrote: “Delightful riff on the current president, played by Santa, and his press secretary, an elf, and his lawyer who is under gingerbread house arrest at the North Pole. Clever and worthy of first place.”

Best Reporting on Govt. or Politics – Robert Woolsey

“Treaty politics fuel tension criticism at Sitka salmon meeting”

The best thing about the Alaska Press Club awards are the judges: They are our peers in the larger world of media. Corey Flinthoff started his career at KYUK in Bethel, moved to Alaska News Nightly, and then went on to become a host and international correspondent for NPR. Judging this category, Flinthoff wrote: “This story offers a clear and fair explanation of the controversy over the salmon fishing treaty. It uses extended actualities to humanize the issue and give it context.”

Best Reporting on Crime or Courts – Robert Woolsey

“For this expat mom, raising healthy girls means going to prison”

The circumstances surrounding the imprisonment and extradition of a Sitka mother first came to light in this story. The issue has since been examined nationally by Allison Herrera with PRI’s The World, for her “Women in Prison” beat.

2nd Place:

Best Sports Reporting – Emily Kwong

“Staying power: World-class Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitor visits Sitka”

This was not Emily Kwong’s first foray into sports journalism. In 2015 she took top honors for her story on the Sitka Sound Slayers.

Best Single Story Reporting – Emily Kwong

“Since 1999, Yakutat’s not-so-secret surf shop going strong”

One of a several stories Emily Kwong produced after a 2018 trip to Yakutat.

Tim Fulton and his wife, Leslie, react to winning an investment of $115,000 at the Alaska Angel Conference on May 9, 2019.

Vern McCorkle Award for Best Business Reporting – Robert Woolsey  

“Sitka entrepreneur rolls out an aviation revolution in the baggage bin”

Former Sitka School Board president Tim Fulton is serious about bringing jobs to his hometown, and his invention may help accomplish that. Says judge Corey Flinthoff, “The writing in this piece is vivid and memorable. The reporter takes us to a place few people get to see, and shows how an invention could revolution the baggage process.”

3rd Place:

Best Sports Reporting – Katherine Rose

“Sled dog superfan and Iditarod veteran connect over fantasy mushing”

It’s especially gratifying when KCAW’s reporters-in-training walk away with Press Club awards. Katherine Rose (now our full-time reporter) was our Post-Graduate Fellow in Community Journalism (aka Winter Fellow) when she discovered “fantasy mushing.”

Best Arts Reporting – Rachel Cassandra

Goddess- inspired collective brings erotic art to Sitka

Rachel Cassandra was our 2018 Summer News Intern from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She immediately turned her attention to alternative communities and ideas in Sitka. Judge Christina Myer wrote of this story “Almost makes a listener want to fly to Alaska to check out the non-tourist art scene.”

Best Education Reporting – Katherine Rose

“MEHS students research how phones affect cognitive ability”

As mentioned, Katherine Rose succeeded Emily Kwong as KCAW’s reporter in the spring of 2019. Judge Bob Collins confirms our opinion of Rose, writing: “Your delivery and writing is just outstanding. This story was so well done and the topic was timely.”

And hearty congratulation to our friends at the Daily Sitka Sentinel, for holding their own in the competitive world of Alaska print media.

1st Place:

Best Feature Photo (Small) – James Poulson, Daily Sitka Sentinel – “Walking the walk”

2nd Place: Best short feature – Shannon Haugland – “Sitka Family Rescues Orphan”

3rd Place: Best reporting on govt or politics – Shannon Haugland – “Tax Break for Seniors Ends: Future in Doubt”