As of yesterday, Star-News staffers Allison K. Sampite and Phillip Brents are award-winning journalists.
For Brents, whose coverage of Chula Vista and National City high school sports is near legendary, the recognition by his peers at the Society of Professional Journalists is nothing new. Brents has almost as many awards as he does bylines. He’s that good.
Sampite, who has been with the paper for just barely a year, is bringing back to the office her first of what’s expected to to be numerous journalism awards.
A couple of journalists winning prizes is hardly newsworthy. But, given the state of newspapering — especially at the local level and specifically in the South County — the accomplishments are notable.
It’s not a secret the print industry is struggling to find a way to stay alive and profitable.
Consider the recent shuttering of Diario San Diego, a publication that had just a few years ago launched as a Monday through Friday daily. But by the time it gasped its final breath, the ambitious publication had become a weekly.
Or recall that it wasn’t long ago The Union-Tribune’s newsroom saw a bloodletting rivaling any early 19th century physician’s operating room. So many people were laid off the once bloated daily was left an emaciated shadow of its former self. But the purging didn’t stop there.
Within the last eight weeks the paper has jettisoned or demoted even more staffers. The result? A flimsier product that, despite its thorough coverage of Jesus Gandara and the Sweetwater Union High School District, still somehow feels as though it does not cover Chula Vista and National City as well as it could. Or at least not as well as most local residents would like.
Which brings me back to Brents and Sampite. They are two-thirds of this newspaper’s editorial staff. Where, even in their skeleton state, the U-T has the luxury of multiple staff writers, Brents and Sampite do not. Every week they are responsible for providing most of The Star-News’ content.
It can be a daunting challenge when forced to decide between covering a city council meeting or a school board policy seminar; or choosing between which CIF sports team deserves coverage.
I’m already aware of all the hard work they do. I’m continually impressed and grateful. Nonetheless to have them recognized by their peers is gratifying.
Congratulations to them.