TBC Media earned several awards on Saturday from the California News Publishers Association as part of its 2017 California Journalism Awards.

The entire newspaper staff earned third place in the general excellence category.

“I am proud of the work our journalists do and glad others have recognized it,” said Jim Lawitz, executive editor and vice president of The Californian. “We perform an essential function in a democratic society, one that is particularly valuable in today’s uncertain, politicized climate.”

The Californian took second place in the writing category for reporter Steven Mayer’s story last fall on local aviator James Mills. The remains of the pilot with whom Mills was flying were recently recovered after the two-man crew's Phantom fighter jet disappeared in 1966.

Columnist Herb Benham earned a second-place award for two of his columns, one about millennials and the other about his mother facing the first wedding anniversary after the death of her husband.

The Californian also took second place for sports reporter Trevor Horn’s profile of Braxton Huggins, a basketball player from Bakersfield who has gone on to do well in college basketball despite a troubled childhood.

Mayer’s feature article last year featuring stories from Bakersfield people who experienced the 1952 earthquake that hit California — a quake with a magnitude of 7.5, one of the largest in the state — scored a third-place award from the CNPA.

The Californian also took third place in a couple of additional categories. Reporters Jason Kotowski, Joseph Luiz and Harold Pierce won for their breaking news coverage of the verdict in the Sabrina Limon case in the Kern County Superior Court.

Limon was found guilty of murder by a jury in connection with the death of her husband, Robert, in 2014. She was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

The CNPA also awarded The Californian third place for Sports Editor Teddy Feinberg’s feature story on Bakersfield native Octavio Martinez, a bullpen catcher for the Washington Nationals baseball team.

The Californian also was a finalist in several additional categories, including for public service journalism for a story on the dangers of valley fever and the 2017 BVarsity Football Preview.

Photographer Felix Adamo also was a finalist for best news photo for his photo of Jaime Osuna, who was convicted last year of murdering Yvette Pena in 2011.

Former columnist Lois Henry was a finalist in the agricultural reporting category for her column on farmer John Vidovich.

Californian staff also were recognized as finalists for arts and entertainment coverage for the paper’s Sunday Eye Street section.

The Tehachapi News also was recognized as a finalist in the special publication category for the 2017 Tehachapi Visitor Guide.

The CNPA’s California Journalism Awards contest ranks newspapers from across the state each year in multiple categories. All stories were published in 2017.

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