Photo: ECM editor Miriam Raftery with emcee J.W. August of 10 News, ECM's news partner
July 11, 2013 (San Diego) –Miriam Raftery, editor of East County Magazine and East County news director for KNSJ 89.1 FM radio, was honored tonight with five awards from the Society of Professional Journalism’s San Diego Chapter including two of the organization’s top prizes with cash awards.
Raftery shared the Sol Price Prize for Responsible Journalism with photographers Jim Pelley and Parke Ewing, for their story titled “Residents Complain of Dust Bowl, Third World Conditions at Pattern Energy’s Ocotillo Wind Site.”
This award goes to journalists whose work not only meets ethical standards but also shows uncommon sensitivity to issues. Winners pursue truth in the face of such obstacles as unpopularity, economic retribution or physical harm. This story, written by Raftery with photos by Pelley and Ewing, documented serious safety concerns. Pelley and Ewing later obtained a restraining order against the wind project manager, who was caught on tape making a profane and violent threat against Ewing. The team shares a $250 cash prize.
For the second year in a row, Raftery also received the James Julian Memorial Award for best community service story. This year, her winning entry also focused on the Ocotillo Express Wind project in an article titled “Awash in Complaints, Residents Seek Protection From Wind Developer’s Actions.” The James Julian Award includes a $100 prize.
She also won second place and honorable mention awards for opinion/editorial works.
The second place award was for “Save community planning groups,” which focused on County Supervisors’ efforts to eliminate planning groups as part of recommendations from a developer-stacked Red Tape Reduction Task Force. Her work on this issue was previously recognized by the San Diego League of Women Voters, which presented Raftery with its Media Award 2012.
The honorable mention, titled “The people our Governor wants to `crush’,” took Governor Jerry Brown to task for denigrating rural residents and Native American tribal members protesting Sunrise Powerlink and other big energy projects. The editorial told the stories of people negatively impacted by projects the Governor supported.
“Silence of the lambs,” Raftery’s article on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s decision to issues take permits allowing the killing of bighorn sheep in the path of the Ocotillo wind project, received an honorable mention in the Environmental reporting category.
Since its inception in 2008, East County Magazine has received over 50 journalism awards, including many of the local journalism community's top prizes, beating out well-funded corporate media competitors.
“I am honored to receive recognition for our reporting on energy, land use and environmental issues,” said Raftery, who holds a degree in Environmental Studies from U.C. Santa Barbara. “Millions of acres of our public lands are slated for destruction for industrial-scale renewable energy projects, without concern for the devastating consequences on the environment, wildlife, or the health and safety of people living nearby. I hope that other journalists will be inspired to investigate the claims made by so-called `green’ energy projects and to ask why policies pushed forward by energy corporations are being given precedent over policies that would favor renewable projects on a human scale, located near where power will be consumed instead of in remote pristine mountain and desert lands.”