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Hercules Patch Honored for Coverage of City's Woes

Society of Professional Journalists bestows award for 100-plus articles and more than 2,000 comments.

The Society for Professional Journalists-Northern California announced Thursday that it is giving its James Madison Freedom of Information Award in the News Media category to Hercules Patch.

Every year, the award goes to “individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to the advancement of freedom of information and expression in the spirit of James Madison, the creative force behind the First Amendment."

The SPJ honored Hercules Patch with this award for its coverage of what the judges delicately call Hercules’ “questionable financial management practices.” The SPJ noted that Patch produced 13 investigative stories and more than 100 daily articles to track this complex story. Patch has put the whole collection in one place and called it Crisis in Hercules.

The coverage was a team effort between , and two freelancer investigative reporters, Bob Porterfield and . Patch also worked closely with colleagues at its sister publication, The Huffington PostTim O'Brien, Huffington Post executive editor, shaped and edited several major investigative pieces and coordinated joint publication of that work on Patch and HuffPost.

And the shared mission extends beyond the immediate Patch family. In October, the SPJ gave its 2011 public service award to Tom Lochner and Daniel Borenstein of the Contra Costa Times for their first-rate reporting on the mess in Hercules. The two awards are a reminder of just how important a diverse and dynamic media are for the health of a community.

But here’s why this award really feels special. The SPJ also recognized how Patch's coverage connected with you. The judges were impressed with the commentary on Hercules Patch from residents who were experiencing the city’s financial collapse firsthand. In that very real sense, this award also belongs to you.

Rob Shea February 11, 2012 at 05:55 AM
Nice going, Laila, et al. You earned it and epitomized what community journalism is about. Also, thanks to the Hercules Patch readers for their concern and engagement.
William Wilkins February 11, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Laila, Ari and all. Thanks for the flow of communication here in Hercules. The honors you received were earned with hard work. Keep up the good work for Hercules.
Dn February 12, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Thank you Patch and you, Laila, for the excellent reporting on the comings and goings of Hercules. Yes, the comments are lively and heated, but it reminds me of the city I grew up in about 10 minutes south of here and begins. Guess you can say I'm used to it and you talk about a tough crowd... Hercules has a ways to go. Now then, when a team wins the Stanley Cup in ice hockey, all players are given time to take the cup to their towns where citizens and ooooh and aaagh and touch the darn thing. Can you do the same so we can touch and oooh and ahh? Just kidding! Congratulations...
Alan Stamm February 13, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Congratulations from Michigan, Laila -- way to set an admirable standard for Patch nationwide! Persistence matters more than size in online investigative journalism, you confirm.
JOEY BATTAGLIERI May 02, 2012 at 07:12 AM
Congratulations on a job well done from a citizen who is pleased & blessed to live in the great city of Hercules.

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