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Baltimore Sun wins ASNE awards for breaking news, photography in Freddie Gray coverage

The Baltimore Sun wins national awards for breaking news and photography in its Freddie Gray coverage.

The Baltimore Sun has won two national journalism awards for its coverage of last year's unrest after the death of Freddie Gray.

The American Society of News Editors announced Tuesday the newspaper's staff won the association's Breaking News Writing Award and Community Service Photojournalism Award. Reporter Mark Puente was a finalist for the Batten Medal for public-service journalism.

The Sun's reporters and photographers documented protests each day in the streets of West Baltimore after Gray, 25, died from injuries sustained in police custody in April. On the day of Gray's funeral, a standoff between police and students led to looting and burning, the city's first riot in decades.

Judges said The Sun stood out for its accurate, trustworthy, comprehensive and fast breaking news coverage.

"Sixty journalists from The Sun spread out across the city to cover the first riots Baltimore had seen in 40 years," the judges wrote. "The writing was clear and crisp, and the editing was sharp, which offered stories packed with key information and told details free of clutter.

"In addition, the reporting was informed by The Sun staff's deep institutional knowledge of the community and long-simmering tension and animosity between the city's police and its African-American community."

The runners-up in the category were the Los Angeles Times, for its coverage of the December mass shooting in San Bernardino, and the Wall Street Journal, for its reporting on the November attacks in Paris.

The judges said The Sun photographers' images of the protests were "both haunting and dramatic."

"The staff of The Sun went well beyond the predictable scenes and covered the story as only a local newspaper could," the judges said. "They didn't find just scenes, they captured moments.

"From the photos of the young man on top of the police car to the image of the boy high-fiving a National Guard soldier, the passion and complexity of that week in Baltimore were revealed."

Francine Orr of the Los Angeles Times and Jessica Rinaldi of The Boston Globe were finalists for the photojournalism award. Orr was for "San Bernardino: Broken City," and Rinaldi was for "A Life Unraveling," about the heroin epidemic.

Puente was recognized for public-service journalism, including reporting for "Undue Force," a 2014 investigation into the city's settlements in cases of alleged police brutality, as well as reporting on rough rides, Baltimore's prisons and police reforms.

The New York Times also won two awards, for online storytelling and public-service journalism.

David Boardman, dean of the Temple University School of Media and Communications and chairman of the awards committee, said the work submitted this year was impressive.

"The quality we saw this year was irrefutable evidence that public-service journalism is as strong as it's ever been," Boardman said in a statement. "In fact, through the deft use of technology in both reporting and presentation, these winners have taken their craft to a whole new level of excellence."

Other organizations have also recognized The Sun's coverage of the Gray case, riot and aftermath, including the Society for News Design for both print and online coverage, the White House News Photographers Association and the Online News Association.

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