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June 29, 2012 (San Diego) – The Society of Professional Journalists' San Diego chapter has awarded East County Magazine editor Miriam Raftery the James Julian Memorial Award for best community service series.  Raftery received the honor, along with a $100 prize, for her series titled FEMA refund demand sparks firestorm of controversy.

The series also won an honorable mention in daily news reporting. In addition, Raftery won a second place award for environmental reporting for an East County Magazine article titled County issues draft wind ordinance; backcountry leaders level harsh criticism.

The James Julian Memorial Award is named after the late Dr. James Julian, a journalism professor at San Diego State University who taught media law. 

“Miriam Raftery did a great job tracing and following up on FEMA’s behavior and actions towards the local survivors of the 2007 firestorms. Truly, this series of continuing stories meets the community service criteria and is an example of the need that good reporting meets,” one judge observed.

The series resulted in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) retracting its demand for local wildfire victims to pay back disaster relief funds received, even though FEMA admitted the property owners had done nothing wrong. 

East County Magazine has received 47 journalism awards since launch of the nonprofit media outlet in 2008.  Other honors include the League of Women Voters, San Diego chapters Media Award 2012, San Diego Press Club’s best general interest website in 2008, as well as first place awards from both Press Club and SPJ for investigative reporting. 

"In this era of diminishing resources for media, it is heartening to receive recognition from the Society of Professional Journalists for reporting on important news issues that impact our communities," said Raftery, who has over 30 years of experience writing for national and regional publications.

She has won dozens of individual journalism awards, including the American Society of Journalists and Authors’ national Arlene Award in 2006 for Monkey Business, a story on election integrity issues in CityBeat.  That story led to an interview with a whistleblower inside the Diebold election equipment company published in Raw Story that led to the resignation of Diebold's CEO and a shareholder lawsuit following revelations of alleged election tampering. She also received San Diego Press Club’s 2006 Best of Show award for her Changing Faces of East County series published in the East County Californian.

Since founding East County Magazine, Raftery has won numerous top honors from local journalism organizations for investigative reporting, breaking news, political and multicultural coverage published in the online nonprofit news outlet that she founded with a start-up grant from San Diego Foundation for Change.  East County Magazine is published by the nonprofit 501c3 Heartland Coalition.



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Congratulations, Miriam, on receiving this important award. I know why "East County Magazine" is such a success. It's because of people like you. I read the issues from across the country, in Florida, and I really enjoy the magazine. Kudos to you and your staff. Keep up the good work.

Carole McKee, Author

Congratulations Miriam on your Award!

Congratulations Miriam, you are certainly deserving! I am proud to be associated with you and East County Magazine.




Dennis Moore

Award to Miriam Raftery

This spunky editor, Miriam Raftery, has done more to unearth what is really going on in this county than all of the other newspaper editors put together and certainly deserves the James Julian Memorial Award!

Congratulations, Miriam!

 Your work has been recognized many times, but this latest award is one that has a great deal of meaning to the community because you helped them through an inexcusable bureaucratic exercize.  FEMA deserved to be pubically chastized for its outrageous behavior.  The residents who suffered many personal and painful losses certainly did not need their government to make their lives harder.  Congratulations for doing what needed to be done by a watchful community journalist.