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2016 Outstanding Journalists

Bethany Barnes 082815kc
Bethany Barnes

Urban Daily, Urban Weeklies,Magazines

Bethany Barnes
Las Vegas Review-Journal

From the nomination:
Bethany Barnes gets things done.
In the past year, Barnes delivered articles that:
• Forced the state to fix a broken system that unjustly kept prison inmates locked up — at  taxpayer expense — well beyond their release dates.
• Revealed that the Boulder City animal shelter director needlessly killed pets and that the city’s  police chief covered it up, quashing a criminal investigation. Her reporting resulted in his ouster from office and the indictment of both.
• Used public records to show, in their own words, how officials of the state’s higher education establishment conspired to tailor a consultant’s reports to their advantage and mislead legislators who were trying to overhaul a crucial college funding formula – going so far as to create false documents to give to lawmakers. The revelations forced the early retirement of the state’s Chancellor of Higher Education and sustained calls for statewide reforms.
• Prompted sweeping reforms of the Clark County District Attorney’s Office practice of using an off-budget checking account to pay expenses for witnesses in criminal cases. A county audit in September prompted by her earlier reporting, confirmed extensive problems in money  handling and policies related to the account.
It would be hard to find another journalist who has had as much impact on Nevada public life in  the past year.

Intermediate, Community

Mick Akers
Pahrump Valley Times

From the nomination:

Mick Akers
Mick Akers

Mick Akers has had outstanding stories this past award cycle including a series of health impact articles stemming from a report stating Nye County was the most unhealthy county in the state.
In a group of eight articles over a two-month period, Akers deconstructed the report, focusing on various aspects, including lack of physicians in the rural area, poor access to healthy food, and the prevalence of smoking.
Akers also helped break a lot of the information on the Lamar Odom story, the former NBA player who was found comatose on the floor of a brothel just outside Pahrump. Akers was able to establish a direct line to the owner and reality television star Dennis Hof, who gave him information that appeared in the Times’ pages before breaking on E! Entertainment Television.
Akers used his connections in the Las Vegas entertainment industry to break the news that Motley Crue frontman Vince Neil had acquired a small bar in Pahrump, and was able to secure the only interview the singer gave about the purchase and December opening.
Akers also covers the Nye County School District, the local electrical coop Valley Electric Association, produces monthly road reports, the weekly weather update and is in charge of the business page that runs every Wednesday. He also oversees the newspaper’s Facebook and Twitter page, often posting latebreaking police reports, and interacting with readers who post online inquiries.

About Barry Smith

Barry Smith is executive director of the Nevada Press Association. Before joining NPA, he was editor of the Nevada Appeal in Carson City and has been an editor, columnist and reporter.

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