2017 Texas Gavel Awards
The State Bar of Texas announced in July 2016, that reporters Natalia Contreras and Krista M. Torralva are among the recipients of the 2017 Texas Gavel Awards.
The award is presented to reporters whose journalism “deepens public understanding of the legal system,” according to the announcement.
Contreras and Torralva, who recently joined the Orlando Sentinel, were recognized for coverage that was part of the Caller-Times’ “Behind Broken Doors” series. The ongoing series looks at the effects of domestic violence and explores potential solutions to curb the deadly trend.
The two collaborated in reporting on the death of Noemi Villarreal, whose burned body was found stuffed in a trash can less than a week after she filed a domestic violence report against the man accused of killing her.
Villarreal’s 2016 case uncovered what many viewed as flaws in police procedure. Her death was among several related to domestic violence that helped spark a series of community forums and became a catalyst for change.
“We examined the Villarreal case with a lens on what changes in the system might have prevented her extremely violent death,” Archuleta said. “The reporting on Noemi’s death helped build community support for helping police and prosecutors focus on improving methods to reducing domestic violence homicides.”
Other recipients of the award include Patrick Michels from the Texas Observer for his work on “Who Guards the Guardians,” which examined guardianship cases throughout Texas. Reporters with KXAN-TV in Austin received the award for “Border Splurge: Texas’ Billion-Dollar Drug War,” where they analyzed thousands of border arrest records.
The state bar is set to honor the recipients on Sept. 14 in Austin.
To read more about the journalists who won the award and their work visit the State Bar’s website.
Spirit of FOI Award 2017
The Nancy Monson Spirit of FOI Award was presented to the Caller-Times by the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas on Thursday in Austin for its series “Behind Broken Doors.”
The series takes a look at the city’s deadly domestic violence problem, revealed flaws in the justice system, and helped to spark action.
The award highlights journalism that upholds First Amendment principles and promotes or uses open government laws such as the Texas Public Information Act, according to a news release. The award is named for the foundation’s former executive director.
As part of the series, the Caller-Times produced stories and commentary about the death of Noemi Villarreal, whose body was burned and was found stuffed in a trash can less than a week after she filed a domestic violence report against the man accused of her murder.
2017 Society of Professional Journalists, Fort Worth Professional Chapter — First Amendment Awards
Defending the Disadvantaged: Story that illustrates problems of the powerless in society. Krista Torralva & Natalia Contreras: “Gone before her time” June 25, 2016