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Roanoke Times staff honored for coverage of COVID-19 pandemic

Roanoke Times staff honored for coverage of COVID-19 pandemic

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Current and former journalists for The Roanoke Times were honored this week by the Virginia Press Association with two dozen awards for their work in 2020, including a staff entry for coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The press association conducted its annual awards ceremony virtually for a second consecutive year, announcing the honors over the course of four days ending Thursday.

Photojournalist Heather Rousseau garnered five individual awards and shared a sixth honor.

The Times, which competes with larger daily newspapers in Richmond, Norfolk and Newport News, received 24 awards for writing, photography and video, design and data journalism.

Among them is a first place general news writing award for a package of stories about of the pandemic. The judges described the work as “exceptional reporting. This is more than reporting on COVID-19. This is well-planned coverage of a once-in-lifetime event. A good variety of stories from hospitals, to drive-in restaurants, to religious services.”

Reporters who wrote or contributed to stories in the entry included Luanne Rife, Yann Ranaivo, Matt Chittum, Claire Mitzel, Su Clauson-Wicker, Henri Gendreau and Casey Fabris. Rife wrote five of the 10 articles in the entry.

Other first-place honorees include Shawn Garrett, for design of the Veterans Voices special section and a second award for the design of Booming magazine; Matt Gentry, for sports photography from the University of Virginia-Virginia Tech football game; and Ralph Berrier for his Dadline parenting columns and a second award for a profile of a young Roanoke girl who survived a vehicle crash that killed her parents.

Second-place winners include the design staff for the front pages of Jan. 2, March 5 and July 1; Dan Casey for column writing; Dwayne Yancey for editorial writing; Mitzel for education writing; and Rousseau for her video coverage of the May 31 protests in downtown Roanoke over the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, for a general news photo of a drive-thru graduation ceremony at the Salem Civic Center, for an underwater portrait of triathlete Parker Albright, and for a sports feature photo of a cyclist.

Third place winners include Gendreau for data journalism; freelance photographer David Hungate and Rousseau for their photo coverage of the May 31 protests displayed in an online slideshow gallery; Mark Shaver for the design of the Game Day special section; Hungate for a breaking news photo from the May 31 protest; Rousseau for a feature photo; Tad Dickens for a series of stories on how musicians and others in related fields coped during the pandemic shutdown; Berrier for government coverage; Rife for health, science and environmental writing; Alison Graham for in-depth reporting; and Alicia Petska for public safety writing.

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