Yakima Herald-Republic Educational Writer and Chief Photographer Wins SPJ Awards | The bottom line


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Two Yakima Herald-Republic staff received Northwestern Journalism Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists’ Region 10 chapters, including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.

Chief Photographer Amanda Ray took first place in the General News category for mid-sized editorial staff for a photo of the closure of the Astria Regional Medical Center, a moving event that left the Yakima Valley with just one hospital.

She also earned second place in the Feature Film Photography category for mid-sized newsrooms for capturing a Yakima veteran with PTSD who found recovery thanks to his canine companion.

In spot news photography, she also won second place for mid-sized editorial staff for her photographic coverage of the late Ahtanum Ridge, which tore Yakima apart last year.

“Inspiration is not something we look for, we are more inclined to it and it finds you. For me, it resides viscerally and shines through people. I have the privilege of working with a talented team who depend on me to visually tell our stories through images and short documentaries, ”said Ray. “I am grateful for the opportunity to visually tell Yakima County stories and my hope is that these images expand the voice of our community and make the world feel more connected and tender.”

Education journalist Janelle Retka was awarded # 1 in Education Reporting for Mid-Sized Editors for her article “Central Washington Teachers Aim to Better Reach English Learners This Fall,” a look on the barriers Spanish speakers face in learning English during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s such an encouragement to see the work of our newsroom recognized and to ensure that important issues in our community, such as barriers to educating English learners, receive the necessary attention,” Retka said. “I am grateful to the students and parents who shared their difficulties. We couldn’t do the work we do without the trust of our community to tell their stories.

The prices were announced Wednesday evening.






Amanda Ray, chief photographer at the Yakima Herald-Republic.









Portrait of Janelle Retka

Janelle Retka, educational reporter for the Yakima Herald-Republic.




Margaux Maxwell reports for the Yakima Herald-Republic and the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. She can be reached at [email protected]

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