Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this


October 20, 2009 (San Diego’s East County) – East County Magazine took home 18 awards at tonight’s San Diego Press Club dinner, including some of the top honors in the region. Our publication was named best general interest website in San Diego County and second best news site (after the San Diego Union-Tribune). Five of our writers (E.A. Barrera, Gayle Early, Miriam Raftery, Jamie Reno, and Joseph Rocha) also won individual honors, beating out many of the top writers and publications in the region. Not bad for an upstart nonprofit media site that’s barely one year old!


As an online magazine that’s swiftly vaulted from monthly to weekly to now daily new publication, ECM had a choice of categories in which we could qualify. Believing that our writers’ works were strong enough to compete head-to-head against the top newspapers in town, ECM entered their articles in the daily newspapers and websites category – and won or placed in nearly every category we entered. Two ECM writers also won in the magazine category. Our team picked up awards for breaking and general news coverage, investigative reporting, consumer/public interest reporting, as well as political'government, travel, multi-cultural, opinion, and column writing.  In addition, ECM received an award in the "wild card" category (regional economic crisis) for our coverage of how budget cuts impact local fire agencies. Winning topics also included wind turbine projects, solar farms, water rate hikes, wildfire protection, hunger in East County, early voting lines, Old Highway 80, and cultural celebrations at a new Native American museum.


“Congratulations to our talented team of journalists and to our webmaster, our hard-working webmaster, business manager, volunteers and interns who have helped make our publication a success,” said editor Miriam Raftery. ““We are deeply honored by San Diego Press Club’s recognition and aspire to expand our award-winning team to provide coverage in every community east of I-15. We also extend our heartfelt thanks to our publisher, the nonprofit Heartland Foundation, and our founding grantor, Foundation for Change, for believing in our business model and helping our vision to become a reality  In addition, we thank our many donors and sponsors, especially Viejas, sponsor of our wildfire alert system, for helping us attain more than a million hits to our site each month."

Leon Thompson, general manager, expressed appreciation to the many supporters of East County Magazine. “What makes ECM stand out is our talented writers providing fresh, original reporting on stories of interest to East County residents. We are essentially of a small town newspaper in a high-tech package,” he said, noting that editor Miriam Raftery has been writing about East County for twenty-five years and has in-depth knowledge of the region.

He added, “As a not-for-profit, non-partisan community news magazine we depend on the community we serve for support. “That is why we are so grateful for the support of individuals and local, indigenous businesses. We are especially grateful to Viejas, for sponsoring our e-mail wildfire alert service and enabling us to expand our distribution of this life-saving free service as well as our news coverage of wildfire preparedness and other important issues.”

Thompson added, “Do you remember when we all paid the newspaper boy five bucks every month for a rolled up newspaper tossed into our driveway? That five dollars, along with advertisers, financed fresh, timely original reporting. If all of our readers pledged a similar amount, just imagine how much more East County Magazine could accomplish. Obviously our readers want more reporting on topics too often ignored by media outside East County. By supporting our nonprofit media in this way, we can be assured of news served up independently, free of outside influences, and beholden to no one but our readers.”  

"With support from our readers in the community, we hope to cover even more important East County issues in the future," Raftery concluded.


Winning writers, categories and articles from East County Magazine include:


E.A. Barrera:

1st place, General News, Firestorm of Controversy. Judge’s comment: “Clear explanation of a complex issue and a strong call to action.”

Gayle Early:

2nd place, Breaking News, Ecumenical Gathering of Friendship Park Disrupted by Taunting. Judge’s comment: “Chilling account of a tragic human story.”
2nd place, General News, Hungry in East County. Judge’s comment: “Excellent first person reporting, well resourced and comprehensive.”
2nd place, Series, Don Quixote Fights Windmills & So Do the Folks in Boulevard” (part 1, part 2, and part 3.)

Miriam Raftery:

1st place, Political/Government, Battle of the Watchdogs. Judge’s comment: “This story is like a great political debate. Solid reporting on the contrasting candidates.”
2nd place, Wild Card Category: Regional Economic Budget Crisis, How Prepared is East County for the Next Wildfire? Budget Cuts Burn Some Local Agencies. Judge’s comment: “Disturbing tale of a community left vulnerable in the wake of the worsening economy.”
2nd place, Political/Government, Solar Farm Reaps Controversy. Judge’s comment: “Comprehensive wrap-up of the facts surrounding a controversial subject.”
3rd place, Public Service/Consumer,Early Voting Lines. Judge’s comment: “Clearly, this is an issue that needs to be solved and this story makes a compelling, fact-based argument.”
3rd place, Public Service/Consumer, Where’s the Pork? No Money for Fire Stations or Fire Prevention in San Diego’s Proposed Stimulus Projects. Judge’s comment: “Love the headline – and the story delivered what it promised. As the author says, sometimes you need a little `muckraking.’”
2nd place, Multicultural, Bird Singers and Basketweavers Celebrate Opening of Native American Museum in Warner Springs
2nd place, Essay/Commentary/Opinion, Proposal for President-Elect Barack Obama: Put Americans to work providing fire protection infrastructure and energy independence for San Diego's fire-ravaged East County region
2nd place, Travel, Lost Highways of East County: Traveling Old Hwy 80 is a Trip Down Memory Lane. Judge’s comment: “A loving, even romantic account of a trip through the region’s past.”
3rd place, Investigative Reporting, Water Board Stirs Flood of Controversy


Jamie Reno:

2nd place, column, The Reno Report.

We also congratulate Jamie Reno, who was honored with the Drew Silvern Award for Special Achievement in Reporting for his courageous coverage of cancer. A cancer survivor, he recounted his own struggle with the disease and profiled 50 fellow lymphoma cancer survives including celebrities in his book, Hope Begins in the Dark: 50 Lymphoma Survivors Tell Their Exclusive Life Stories. His newest book, Snowman on the Pitcher’s Mound, is a life-affirming story of a Little League player coping with his mother’s cancer diagnosis.



Gayle Early:

2nd place, Series, Don Quixote Fights Windmills & So Do the Folks in Boulevard. (Part 1, part 2, and part 3) Judge’s comment. “With a cast of hundreds, sources from all over the country and an issue that can’t go away, Early did an excellent job of covering all sides.”

Joseph Rocha (intern):

2nd place, Political/Government, 7th District Fight: Emerald vs. Boling



Several ECM writers also won awards for works published in other publications, including E.A. Barrera, Francine Phillips, and Jamie Reno.


Please donate to help our nonprofit community media outlet grow!


Error message

Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.