Express-News’ pandemic coverage wins top prize in Texas APME competition

The San Antonio Express-News was honored for its coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and other notable 2021 stories with numerous awards in the annual Texas Associated Press Managing Editors competition.

The Express-News ranked first among the state’s largest newspapers in the team effort category for a selection of 10 articles that documented the far-reaching impact of the pandemic in San Antonio.

The stories revealed gaps in the metropolitan health district’s response to the crisis. They revealed that San Antonio had the highest COVID-19 death rate of any major urban area in Texas. And they showed how the prolonged closure of classrooms exposed a digital divide between middle-class families and poor families.

The winning entry also included a profile of the first San Antonian to die of COVID-19, an 83-year-old seamstress named Doris Wallace, as well as examples of a daily report in which a rotating cast of Express staff members- News responded to readers’ questions about the coronavirus.

In addition to the honor bestowed on all staff, individual journalists from Express-News were recognized in numerous categories.

In total, the article won 23 awards, including first place in six categories.

Lauren Caruba, the newspaper’s lead medical reporter during the pandemic, won first prize for specialized reporting for her compelling and deeply-reported stories illustrating the toll of COVID-19 on doctors, nurses, patients and their families.

For some of the stories, Caruba and the photographers who worked with her wore elaborate protective gear as they reported for hours in hospitals filled with critically ill COVID-19 patients.

Caruba also won second place in the Star Reporter of the Year category.

Cary Clack, columnist and member of the editorial board of Express-News, was named Star Opinion Writer of the Year.

Brandon Lingle, an economic reporter for Express-News, took first place in the business reports category. Lingle, an Air Force veteran, embarked on a career as a journalist less than a year ago. He works for Express-News with support from Report for America, a national, nonprofit service program that places early-career journalists in newsrooms.

Express-News photographer Jerry Lara took first prize in reportage photography, and the newspaper’s photo team took second place in the photojournalism category.

Greg Anglin, an editor-in-chief of Express-News, took first place in writing headlines.

Adrian Alvarez, artistic director of the newspaper, won second place in the designer of the year category.

Vincent Davis, a journalist who writes the weekly “San Antonio Stories” column, won second place in the feature film series category.

Tom Orsborn won second place in Star Investigative Report of the Year for exposing the exaggerated claims and inferior performance of a San Antonio event planner who won a $ 39 million contract to deliver boxes of food to needy families during the pandemic.

Orsborn, a longtime sports reporter for Express-News, temporarily joined the newspaper’s subway staff when the pandemic slowed down professional sports. He described queues of several miles of families waiting for distributions of groceries from the San Antonio food bank.

From this work, he discovered the Farmers to Families Food Box program of the US Department of Agriculture. Orsborn reported that event planner Gregorio Palomino was awarded a contract with the USDA even though he had no experience in food distribution or the required production license. Palomino’s resume included unsubstantiated claims about his references and business relationships, Orsborn reported.

Orsborn documented that Palomino delivered significantly less than the 750,000 boxes of food stipulated in his contract. The coverage helped spark a congressional inquiry into the food box program.

A full list of winners is here.

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