The Morgan Hill Times’ coverage of the June 2019 Ford Store shooting netted the newspaper a first-place award in the California News Publishers Association’s annual California Journalism Awards.
The Times received first place for Breaking News for weekly newspapers with a circulation of 4,301-11,000 in the awards that were announced March 31.
The judge in the category commended the Times’ staff for including “important details that portrayed full pictures of the victims and the perpetrator, which is important for community readership.”
“Community news reporting at its best,” the judge wrote. “Excellent follow-up that moved a breaking story forward for readers of a weekly. Excellent teamwork with several staff members pursuing different aspects of the story, seeking what was new, what would happen next, what was still unknown and reactions from community members and experts.”
The workplace shooting at Ford Store Morgan Hill occurred June 25, 2019. Steven Leet, an employee in the parts department, opened fire with a handgun on two of his supervisors hours after he was notified he was being fired from the automobile dealership. Killed in the shooting were Ford Store Parts and Service Director Brian Light, 59, and Parts Manager Xavier Souto, 38, both of San Jose.
The Times’ sister newspaper, the Gilroy Dispatch, was also honored by the California News Publishers Association.
The Dispatch, competing in the weekly newspaper circulation of 11,001-25,000 category, received first place in Breaking News for both the print and digital categories of the awards. The newspaper also received a second-place award for In-Depth Reporting related to the festival shooting.
“The Gilroy Dispatch staff should be commended for its strong, comprehensive coverage in the aftermath of the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting,” the judge for the In-Depth Reporting category wrote. “Beyond the responsible, professional spot coverage of the shooting, the newspaper made smart choices in its follow-up reporting.”
The Good Times, a New SV Media weekly based in Santa Cruz, won first prize for General Excellence, the most prestigious award among all weekly newspapers in California.