The Fresnoland editorial team, as of October 2022, from left to right: Heather Halsey Martinez, Melissa Montalvo, Dympna Ugwu-Oju, Cassandra Garibay, Danielle Bergstrom, and Gregory Weaver. Credit: Isabel Santos-Gonzalez

With less than a year of publishing independently under our belt, Fresnoland reporters have won six awards in the 2023 California Journalism Awards, a contest put on by the California News Publishers Association, of which we’re a member.

Among the award-winning entries:

  • First place in the election coverage category, for Fresnoland’s 2022 Voter Guide, produced by Danielle Bergstrom, Cassandra Garibay, Heather Halsey Martinez, and Gregory Weaver, with contributions from Fresno Bee reporters Laura Diaz and Melissa Montalvo, editing support from Dympna Ugwu-Oju, and graphic design support from Von Balanon.
  • First place in the business and economy coverage category for our series, Broken Ladders, which included a suite of stories about the barriers to economic mobility – along with potential solutions, with lead reporting by Dympna Ugwu-Oju, and additional byline contributions from Cassandra Garibay, Melissa Montalvo, and Danielle Bergstrom. This series was made possible with funding support from the James Irvine Foundation.
  • Second place in the public service category, for Gregory Weaver’s comprehensive coverage of the twists and turns encompassing the debate around Fresno County’s $7 billion Measure C transportation ballot initiative.
  • Second place in the youth and education category, for Melissa Montalvo and Dympna Ugwu-Oju’s coverage of a youth entrepreneurship program in southwest Fresno.
  • Second place in the newsletters category, for “This Week in Fresnoland,” which we have since discontinued in place of the even better Toplines
  • Third place in the environmental coverage category, for a series on the impacts of extreme heat on unhoused, farmworker, and other marginalized communities in the central San Joaquin Valley, led by Cassandra Garibay, and with bylines from Dympna Ugwu-Oju and Fresno Bee reporter Laura Diaz. This series was produced with support from USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism.

Our team won in a category designated for digital publications with 100,000 monthly unique visitors or fewer.

I’m so proud of the work our small but mighty team has accomplished in the short time we’ve had as an independent publisher. 

The projects chosen highlight our dogged commitment to public service journalism. Our election guide was deeply researched, including everything from key endorsements to an analysis of campaign contributions, to explainers on local ballot measures – and entirely translated into Spanish. We worked with local graphic designer Von Balanon to make the user interface as straightforward and easy-to-read as possible.

The election guide also demonstrates our commitment to collaboration: we worked with Fresnoland/Fresno Bee reporter Melissa Montalvo, and Fresno Bee reporter Laura Diaz to help research our guide, which was published in the Fresno Bee and The Business Journal, as well as Radio Bilingüe.

Our Broken Ladders series began with a commitment to pair reporting on a problem – a lack of economic mobility – with optimistic reporting on solutions that community organizations are trying to address it.

We published 19 stories on Measure C, just in 2022 – and that doesn’t include the in-depth coverage that our Fresnoland team produced in partnership with the Fresno Bee and Vida en el Valle in 2021, looking at the ways in which our public transportation system has failed many people living in rural and marginalized communities.

And our Heating Up series, led by Cassandra Garibay, helped illuminate the ways in which unhoused residents and people in marginalized communities, who often lack air conditioning, are dealing with the effects of climate change and extreme heat.

The series helped shine a light on a lack of cooling centers in rural communities, as well as arbitrary and difficult-to-understand rules on when Fresno city cooling centers are available for the public. The city council, after Fresnoland’s reporting, changed their policy on access to cooling centers – making them available when temperatures reach 100 degrees fahrenheit, instead of 105 degrees.

Support our nonprofit journalism.


Your contribution is appreciated.

I created Fresnoland so we can make policy public for everyone.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *