inewsource journalists won two top honors from the San Diego Society of Professional Journalists for their reporting on risky medical research and infrastructure funding shortfalls stemming from a San Diego ballot measure. 

SPJ announced the winners of the 2020 special awards on Monday. Last week, the group announced inewsource had received eight other awards in this year’s contest, including three first-place honors.

Brad Racino and Jill Castellano with awards
inewsource reporters Jill Castellano and Brad Racino at an awards banquet in 2018. (Photo by Tarryn Mento)

The Risky Research series by investigative reporters Brad Racino and Jill Castellano won the Excellence in Journalism prize, which honors the best story, series or show in the contest. 

The ongoing project, with nearly 20 articles to date, has uncovered egregious human research violations at UC San Diego and the San Diego VA; documented undisclosed connections between China and a former UCSD department chief; and detailed how UCSD failed to tell women in an HIV study of a data breach involving confidential information they had shared.

inewsource reporter Mary Plummer works on a story in Chollas Lake Park, Sept. 30, 2019. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)

Investigative reporter Mary Plummer was honored with the Gloria Penner Award for Political Affairs Reporting for her examination of a 2016 infrastructure ballot measure that San Diego politicians promised would bring in billions of dollars to fix roads, sidewalks and storm drains, but is already running out of money.

The award is named for the late Gloria Penner, a longtime KPBS journalist. It recognizes the reporter whose work represents the best in local political journalism for 2019.

Former inewsource intern Bella Ross also was one of five recipients of the 2020 SPJ scholarship. While at inewsource, she wrote a story detailing the missteps in a San Diego State University roofing project that sickened dozens from noxious odors.

The SPJ Florida chapter judged this year’s contest. For a complete list of the special award and scholarship winners announced Monday, click here. For a list of the other SPJ contest winners, click here.

Type of Content

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Sofía Mejías-Pascoe is a border and immigration reporter covering the U.S.-Mexico region and the people who live, work and pass through the area. Mejías-Pascoe was previously a general assignment reporter and intern with inewsource, where she covered the pandemic’s toll inside prisons and detention...