Mineral King Publishing takes home Gruner award, honors

(Left to right) Mineral King Publishing, Inc Executive Editor Paul Myers, Editor Danielle Gutierrez and Executive Publisher Reggie Ellis with Gruner Awards for The Sun-Gazette and Mid Valley Times articles.(Benjamin Kirk, Communication Specialist for the College of Arts and Humanities at Fresno State. )

The Sun-Gazette, Mid Valley Times newspapers are amongst other local Valley news sources to win at 36th George F. Gruner Awards ceremony

FRESNO – In a celebration of journalistic achievement, the 36th-annual George F. Gruner Awards put the spotlight on the contributions of local news outlets across the central San Joaquin Valley; and Mineral King Publishing — parent company of The Sun-Gazette and Mid Valley Times — not only got an honorable mention, but was awarded for catapulting a small-town story onto the national stage.

Darren Fraser, reporter for the Mid Valley Times, was awarded the Public Service Award in the Small Dailies/Weeklies category. Fraser was awarded for reporting on the operations of an illegal biolab in the quiet community of Reedley in his article “Reedley building examination uncovers abandoned lab mice.”

“It’s not the kind of story that small news organizations usually get,” a judge said in a review of the article. “But The Mid Valley Times handled it well.”

Fraser’s article put a local story into the national spotlight. As it was reported, the story started with over 800 biological materials and chemicals as well as 900 mice being found at the illegal lab in Reedley, drawing a slew of local, state and national agencies into the resulting investigation that followed.

Danielle Gutierrez, editor of The Sun-Gazette and Mid Valley Times, garnered Honorable Mention for the Best News Story in the Small Dailies/Weeklies category for her article titled “Local shelters dig in as animals overwhelm resources,” which is about the overwhelming number of stray and abandoned pets after the pandemic as well as its impacts, including on the mental health of shelter workers.

The first place honor for Best News Story for Small Dailies/Weeklies was given to Parker Bowman of the Hanford Sentinel for his piece on the flooding that devastated the South Valley last year.

Additional winners of the 2024 Awards ceremony fresnoland’s Omar Shaikh Rashad for his coverage of the secrecy surrounding the Fresno City Council’s budget committee. Rashad shared the Public Service Award in the Large Newspapers/Digital Only category with Lois Henry, who used her website SJV Water to detail how the J.G. Boswell Farming Co. of Corcoran imperiled area towns and other farmers with its handling of the extensive flooding in the spring of 2023.

For Best News Stories for Large Dailies/Digital, Gregory Weaver of fresnoland earned himself top honors for a story that uncovered flaws in Fresno’s environmental review process.

Garth Stapley’s Modesto Bee column in the Large Dailies/Digital category was awarded for shedding light on a tragic incident involving a homeless woman, while Parker Bowman took the spotlight for best column among Small Dailies/Weeklies by exploring AI’s impact on pop culture.

Winners of best Editorial Writing were Tad Weber’s Fresno Bee editorial, as well as Greg and Nicole Little from the Mariposa Gazette. Both pieces were about the failings of Bakersfield’s Kevin McCarthy, former speaker of the House, and the impact on government and politics.

John Donegan from the Bakersfield Californian was awarded for a feature about the barriers to asylum that are faced by African immigrants. Greg Little from the Mariposa Gazette was recognized for his story of a woman who gave birth on a mountain road in the back of a Subaru.

As for the best news photo, that honor was given to Craig Kohlruss’s drone photo in the Fresno Bee, which captured a structure in the middle of the recently resurrected Tulare Lake, along with Ron Holman’s image in the Visalia Times-Delta, which captured scenes of flooding and military homecomings.

In the sports category, Craig Kohlruss’s action shot for the Fresno Bee and Ron Holman’s image for the Visalia Times-Delta was awarded for showcasing athleticism. Awards given out for best sports stories include Ron Stapp’s Bakersfield Californian piece and the stories by Shawn Jansen and Vongni Yang, which delved into high school sports.

Finally, Gregory Weaver from fresnoland was awarded for his piece on regional power struggles among some of the region’s wealthiest, most influential farmers in the Large Dailies/Digital Only category. Lauren Jennings from the Visalia Times-Delta won the Small Papers/Weeklies category for her feature on historic flooding.

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