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By Miriam Raftery

October 31, 2019 (San Diego) – East County Magazine editor Miriam Raftery and contributing editor Paul Kruze once again won awards in the San Diego Press Club 46th annual Excellence in Journalism Awards.  The awards honored coverage of the West Fire in Alpine as well as investigations into legal and ethical scandals embroiling El Cajon Councilman Ben Kalasho, who later resigned.

ECM has received a total of 116 journalism awards since our lanch in 2008, 11 years ago -- an average of 10 per year

Raftery received two first place awards, both in the online and daily newspapers category:

Breaking news:  “With West Fire 92% contained Alpine residents return home, but dozens find only ashes

Political/Government reporting: “Judge finds facts true and admissible in case against Kalashos: faked nude photos, sexual harassment, defamation, and offer to trade sex for pageant crown

Kruze and Raftery received a third place award for their series on a serious subject, titled “Councilman Kalashos legal and ethical scandals.”  The series included:

Judge finds facts true and admissible in case against Kalashos: faked nude photos, sexual harassment, defamation, and offer to trade sex for pageant crown

Councilman Ben Kalasho pled guilty to workers comp fraud, remains on probation

Disgraced Councilman Kalasho resigns, settles suit with beauty queens—but another defamation case remains pending

More than 500 awards in more than 180 categories were presented Tuesday to San Diego’s finest reporters, photographers, writers, editors and public relations professionals at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation’s Joe and Vi Jacobs Community Center. More than 500 awards in more than 180 categories were presented. Event attendance totaled about 500 people.

 “The San Diego Press Club Excellence in Journalism Awards celebrates professionals whose research, writing, reporting, and visual skills shed light on topics that matter to us all,” said Karyl Carmignani, 2019 Press Club president. “I am proud of our organization uniting journalism and public relations professionals, while providing career-enhancing programs and fun mingling opportunities for our members.”

 The San Diego Press Club’s Journalism Awards is among the largest regional competitions in the United States. This year’s awards program drew more than 950 entries, making it one of the largest journalism competitions in the nation. Judges included members of press clubs in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Rochester, Florida, Cleveland, Orange County, Milwaukee, Tulsa and Alaska.


The most awards went to the San Diego Union-Tribune (25), followed by Times of San Diego (24). Southwestern College ha the most winners in the college news division (17). Ken Stone received the most individual awards (20).

Best of Show award winners included: Armita Sharma, KPBS-TV, “Homelessness: I Feel Your Pain, or Do I,” Best Television/Online Video Entry; Jared Whitlock, San Diego Business Journal, “Bottleneck in Psych Care Leaves Hospitals, Patients in the Lurch,” Best Non-Daily Newspaper Entry; Kristina Grifantini, Salk Institute, “The Science of Aging,” Best Magazine Entry; Dorian Hargrove, Matthew Lewis, Tom Jones, KNSD-TV, NBC 7/39, “Uncovering a San Diego Porn Scheme,” Best Radio/Podcast Entry; The San Diego Union-Tribune Staff, “Our Immigrant Story,” Best Online/Daily Newspaper Entry; Carl Nettleton, Independent Voter Network, “SANDAG Goes Back to the Future: The 2007 Vision for a Grand Central Station,” Wildcard Category, 2019 theme was Transportation; Jill Castellano, reporter,, Rising Star award; Brad Racino, senior investigative reporter,, Body of Work award.

 Press Club presented three special awards. They included: Roger Showley, retired San Diego Union-Tribune reporter, Harold Keen Award for outstanding contributions in journalism; Bob Stefanko and Mia Park, Ranch & Coast Magazine, Jim Reiman Award for excellence in media  management; Teresa Warren, TW2, Andy Mace Award for career achievements in public relations.

 In addition to the presentation of journalism writing awards, two college students were presented with scholarships at the event. They included: Bella Ross, San Diego State University, $2,500 Joe Lipper Scholarship; Chad Hunter Francis, San Diego City College, $1,500 scholarship from the San Diego Press Club Foundation. Ross has written for SDSU’s Daily Aztec newspaper and served as an intern with the San Diego Union-Tribune. Francis served as an anchor and reporter with ITV Cable 16, which is operated by the County Office of Education.


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