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By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Award-winning  journalists Rachel Williams, Rebecca Jefferis-Williamson, Jonathan Goetz, Miriam Raftery

July 20, 2017  (San Diego) – The Society of Professional Journalists San Diego Pro Chapter last night present four awards to East County Magazine at last night's awards banquet held at the Kona Kai resort, bringing ECM’s awards total to 101 since our inception in 2008. 

This year’s awards for our team, shared among five photojournalists, honored coverage of Border Fire controversies, the shooting of Alfred Olango and ensuing civil unrest in El Cajon, Syrian refugees, and ourradio broadcast of the Helix Water District candidate forum.

Editor Miriam Raftery received her fourth James Julian Memorial Award for a community service story. Her winning entry was titled “Whitewash? County’s Border Fire report ignores serious concerns raised by residents.”

Photo, right:  Miriam Raftery with Mark Hanson, CEO of Heartland Coalition, ECM's nonprofit publisher

Rachel Williams won a first place news photography award for her haunting image of Syrian refugee girls in El Cajon, taken as part of her article titled “A revolution of struggle continues for Syrian refugees in East County.”


Photo, left:  Rachel Williams. Photo, below right: William's winning photo.


A second place award for breaking news coverage was shared by reporters Rebecca Jefferis-Williamson and Jonathan Goetz, photographer Robert Gehr, and reporter/editor Miriam Raftery for coverage of the shooting of Alfred Olango, an African-American man, by a white El Cajon Police Officer and the ensuing civil unrest over a 24-hour period.  

Our reporters risked personal safety to get these stories; Rebecca was knocked down and had her camera bag stolen amid the fray. The winning stories are:

Protests erupt in El Cajon; black man shot by police dies

Parkway Plaza evacuated,  car show shut down amid unrest after police shooting

Unrest grows in El Cajon; man killed pointed vaping device at officers

Photo, right: Rebecca Jefferis-Williamson and Jonathan Goetz.

Our broadcast of the Helix Water District candidate forum on the East County Magazine Show on KNSJ radio also won a second place audio award for community service programming. The forum was moderated by ECM editor Miriam Raftery.

SPJ also honored Morgan Cook from the San Diego Union Tribune as Journalist of the Year for her investigative reporting that led to a  federal criminal investigation into Congressman Duncan Hunter’s campaign finances.

View full list of all SPJ San Diego  awards winners here:

We congratulate our winners and thank our many donors for supporting community news reporting in the public interest.

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