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Deseret News takes home 75 awards, including best news website, in Utah journalism contest

Veteran police reporter Pat Reavy was honored with the Quintus C. Wilson Ethics Award

SHARE Deseret News takes home 75 awards, including best news website, in Utah journalism contest

Young Electric Sign company workers install the new Deseret News sign Saturday, July 2, 2011, on the Triad Center.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The Deseret News emerged as a big winner in this year’s Utah Society of Professional Journalists Headliners contest, taking home the most first-place and overall number of awards of any organization, including being named the best news-oriented website in the state.

The Deseret News received 75 awards overall, including 19 first place, 20 second place, 19 third place awards and 17 honorable mentions in a wide variety of categories. The next closest competitor in the Division A daily publication category had 15 first-place wins and 43 awards overall. Deseret News staff swept four categories, including videography, general features, military and sports non-deadline reporting.

Pat Reavy, a veteran reporter on the police beat, was among a small group of honorees to receive a special recognition. Reavy was selected for the Quintus C. Wilson Ethics Award for being among the first to identify a rising wave of what police were calling “sextortion,” as explained in his article, “Uncovering secret that led to son’s suicide.”

“He gained the trust of the Tobler family and investigators, skillfully preparing a report that candidly addressed youth suicide and victimization in sexual crimes while maintaining the trust of the family, an ethical challenge that balanced the values in SPJ’s Code of Ethics of seeking and reporting truth while minimizing harm,” contest organizers said in statement. “The article gained international reach and started a necessary conversation among Utah families that law enforcement credits with saving young lives.”

As a staff, the Deseret News received second-place awards for best use of news-oriented social media and best newspaper for design and graphics.

First place awards

Rex Warner, Spenser Heaps, Gillian Friedman and Adrienne St. Clair won first place for their videography feature, “He was sexually abused as a child. Now this Utah Orthodox rabbi tells his story for the first time.”

Friedman won first place in criminal justice reporting for her article, “Fatal court.”

Deseret News reporters swept all the awards in the general feature category, led by Jesse Hyde in first place for his article, “A nun, a shooting and the unlikely legacy that could save the Amazon rainforest.”

Deseret News reporters also captured all the awards in military reporting. Matthew Brown topped the list with his article, “How an announcement in Utah signaled that the new nuclear arms race is on.”

In general news, Amy Joi O’Donoghue won first place for her piece, “Do eight declining lakes around the world hold the secret that can save the Great Salt Lake?” Her personality profile, “Utah’s water czar: 1 of the most powerful men you likely never heard of,” also earned top marks.

In government writing and reporting, Katie McKellar won first place for her article, “‘Horrific’ typo valued Wasatch County home at almost $1 billion. Now taxpayers may end up paying for it.”

InDepth reporter Lois M. Collins won first place in medical/science reporting for her article, “Utah man has dire need for new liver to replace the one his mother gave him when he was a baby.”

InDepth reporter Erica Evans claimed two first place awards; one in the minority issues category, “A pastor was kidnapped. White tents go up. In Nuevo Laredo, the border crisis is reaching a tipping point”; and one as a multimedia journalist for her article, “Do you know where your paper and plastic go? How China caused a recycling crisis in America.”

The Deseret News sports staff swept thesports non-deadline category, with Amy Donaldson taking first for her her article, “Who is coaching our kids and are they properly trained? Why the answers are elusive.”

Now-retired Brad Rock won first place for his sports column, “Former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan forgets things, but remembers those who remember him.”

Herb Scribner won first place in sports deadline reporting for his piece, “I attended UMass-BYU game in both Provo and Amherst. Here’s the difference.”

Photographers Laura Seitz and Steve Griffin both won first place awards; Seitz for her feature photo, “Rodeo dancers,” and Griffin for his sports action photo titled, “Ouch.”


Oswaldo Gutierrez of West Valley and Gabriela Olivares of Ogden dance at the Jaripeo Baile/ Rodeo at the Utah State Fairpark in Salt Lake City on Sunday, July 21, 2019.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News


Weber’s Joshua Maughan screams in pain as Pleasant Grove’s James Tran-Khanh-Bichon steps on his arm during the high school 6A semifinal soccer match at Juan Diego Catholic High School in Draper on Tuesday, May 21, 2019.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

In the graphics and design department, Heather Tuttle won first place in design and graphics for “National Peanut Day.” Heidi Perry received first place for best single-page design for her work, “Rudy Gobert.” Mary Archbold also took first in front-page design for her work on “In search of the moral high ground.”

Other winners and honorable mentions

  • Mary Archbold, second place, design and graphics: “175th anniversary of Martyrdom.”
  • Heather Tuttle, honorable mention, design and graphics: “The North Pole.”
  • Heidi Perry, honorable mention, best single-page design: “The Green Monster.”
  • Dallin Turner, second place, feature page design: “After the Snap”
  • Heidi Perry, third place, feature page design: “Songs of Summer.”
  • Heidi Perry, honorable mention, feature page design: “Galaxy’s Edge.”
  • Heidi Perry, third place, front page design: “Executive Power.”


Jake McElheny, of Layton, carries his daughter, Ella, 2, while his wife, Christi, carries Ella’s twin sister, Grace, as they check out the first night of the annual Christmas lights display at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Friday, Nov. 29, 2019.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

  • Steve Griffin, honorable mention, best photographer

Katie Thomas flips snow in the air for her dog, Danger, to catch as her husband, James, joins her in digging out from a storm that dumped several inches of snow in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019.

Steve Griffin


At least four people were killed in a tour bus crash near Bryce Canyon National Park on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. Local hospitals are treating another 17 patients.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

  • Jeffrey D. Allred, second place, general news photo: “A father returns.”

Utah Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Crocker hugs his children, Kaiden and Anabelle, at Roland R. Wright Air Base in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, April 9, 2019, as the guard’s Echo Battery, 1st Battalion, 145th Field Artillery, “Big Red,” returns from a deployment in the Middle East.

Jeffrey D. Allred

  • Laura Seitz, third place, general news photo: “Rape victim speaks out.”

BYU sophomore Franchesca Lopez, who said she was sexually assaulted, calls for reform of the university’s honor code and how it is enforced during a demonstration on the Provo campus on Friday, April 12, 2019.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

  • Kristin Murphy, honorable mention, general news photo: “Homeless woman.”

Stacy Evans cries while sitting on a sidewalk outside of the Lantern House, a homeless shelter in Ogden, on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. “We’ve been through hell. It sucks to be homeless,” she said.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News


Elders Pedro Cabral and Tanner McKee, missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, walk past liquor bottles — the remnants of a Saturday night street party — as they walk a family to church in Paranaguá, Brazil, on Sunday, June 2, 2019. The pair of missionaries woke up an hour earlier than usual to walk to the family’s home and then escort them to Sunday church services — a nearly 4-mile circuit in the rain. In tougher areas, the simple act of having two men arrive to escort a single mother and her sons, in this case, can have an impact.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

  • Steve Griffin, third place, photo essay: “Wild horses.”

Wild horses run together at the Axtell contract off-range corrals in Axtell, Utah County, on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. The Axtell facility is one of two locations in Utah that provides care to wild horses removed from the range. Nearly 90,000 wild horses and burros roam in 10 Western states where government range watchers say there should be just under 27,000, and the horses are multiplying quickly.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

  • Jeffrey D. Allred, second place, sports action photo: “Touchdown.”

Brigham Young Cougars running back Ty’Son Williams (5) dives for the end zone against the USC Trojans in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

  • Scott G. Winterton, third place, sports action photo: “Face kick.”

Real Salt Lake forward Sam Johnson (50) battles Columbus Crew defender Aboubacar Keita (30) for the ball as Real Salt Lake and Columbus Crew play a Major League Soccer game at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Wednesday, July 3, 2019.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

  • Laura Seitz, second place, sports feature photo: “Special suit.”

Skyridge’s team manager, Caleb Klein, celebrates with the bench as Skyridge takes a lead against Murray during the 5A quarterfinal game at Salt Lake Community College in Taylorsville on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019. Klein purchased the suit with his own money and wears it only during home games and tournaments.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

  • Laura Seitz, third place, sports feature photo: “A royal win.”

Utah Royals FC forward Amy Rodriguez (8) is congratulated by teammates Vero Boquete, Erika Tymrak and Desiree Scott after scoring against Chicago at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Friday, May 3, 2019.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

An awards gala was not held this year due to COVID-19.