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Congratulations to SPJ Western Washington’s journalists of the year

SPJ Western Washington is pleased to announce the recipients of our annual chapter awards:

Dominic Gates
Journalist of the Year

The Seattle Times’ Dominic Gates’ groundbreaking reporting on the Boeing 737 MAX crisis revealed systemic internal and government failures. Gates’ reporting “laid bare how the federal regulator was not fully informed as Boeing expanded the powers of its MCAS flight control system, the automated software whose malfunctioning killed 346 people,” according to The Times.

Gates weaves together the human toll of these oversights with stories about the local economic impact, airplane engineering and air safety regulation. Gates and The Seattle Times were also recognized with a Pulitzer Prize for this work.

Read The Seattle Times’ ongoing coverage of the Boeing 737 MAX here.

Zoe Branch
New Journalist of the Year

Zoe Branch, assistant editor for South Sound, South Sound Business, 425, and 425 Business, was lauded for her commitment to local journalism, as well as for owning a small business and volunteering with the Freedom Education Project Puget Sound and Migrant Center for Human Rights.

“I have watched her blossom into a thoughtful writer; a passionate debater; an advocate for equality, transparency, and ethics; and a leader — in March 2020, we promoted Zoe to assistant editor, and she has excelled,” wrote Branch’s nominator Jeff Burlingame, editor-in-chief of South Sound Business and 425 Business.
Andre Stepankowsky
June Anderson Almquist Lifetime Achievement Award
Andre Stepankowsky, city editor for The Daily News in Longview, will retire this summer after dedicating more than 40 years to the region as a reporter, editor and mentor for young journalists. Stepankowsky shared a Pulitzer Prize for the newspaper’s coverage of the Mt. St. Helens eruption.
“Although his contributions to the Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the eruption could have bought him a ticket to a more illustrious career at a larger newspaper, Andre made the conscious choice to stay in the Longview community. That decision set him down a path to becoming one of the greatest pillars of institutional knowledge in Southwest Washington and the heart of the newspaper,” wrote one of his nominators, the newspaper’s education reporter Marissa Heffernan.
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