Hallman Elementary School students gather during the school's morning assembly. (Fred Joe/Special to Salem Reporter/FILE)

In-depth reports on local education and news of NORPAC’s failure won honors for journalistic excellence for Salem Reporter in results announced Monday night.

Reporter Rachel Alexander, who covers education, was awarded first place in education reporting for her report last fall about teacher injuries in the Salem-Keizer School District and first place for her five-part series last fall called “Nine into Six,” which examined challenges in local schools.

The news staff was cited as a runner up in the category of breaking news for its coverage of the collapse of NORPAC. Reporters who worked on that coverage included Alexander, Saphara Harrell, local government reporter; Jake Thomas, business and economy reporter; and Troy Brynelson, now a reporter for OPB.

The award was in regional competition conducted by SPJ, a national journalism organization, that drew 1,300 entries. Salem Reporter competed against small newsrooms across the west in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.

“These honors in very tough competition underscore that Salem Reporter is doing what it set out to do – provide the community with credible, fair local news,” said Les Zaitz, editor and a founder of Salem Reporter. “That our colleagues recognize us for journalistic excellence is a moment of pride for our small but determined team.”

Salem Reporter is an all-digital local news source founded in 2018 by Zaitz, a veteran Oregon journalist, and Larry Tokarski, owner of Mountain West Investment Corp. and a local philanthropist.

Among medium sized newsrooms in the West, the Salem Statesman Journal was cited twice, earning runner up honors for housing and homelessness reporting by Connor Radnovich and Jonathan Bach and for a sports feature by Pete Martini and Anna Reed.

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