ELLENSBURG -- The late John Luke LaSalle of Richland and his fellow journalists at Central Washington University's weekly student-run and student-written newspaper were honored with a third place win in the Best of Show contest for papers published twice to once weekly.
The Observer received the recognition during the 27th annual National College Journalism Convention in Hollywood, Calif.
The issue that was honored was the paper's Feb. 3-9 issue, which featured a package on the use of heroin on campus and the death of The Observer's former assistant scene editor, LaSalle.
"We put so much work into that issue, and I'm happy that we won this award for this paper -- and for John Luke," said Anthony James, editor-in-chief of The Observer.
LaSalle died of a heroin overdose Jan. 21, a day after his 20th birthday, according to the Feb. 2 edition of the Observer. He graduated from Hanford High in 2009. LaSalle was the son of John and Sheila LaSalle of West Richland.
The paper's reporters also won four awards in the Society of Professional Journalists' Region 10 Mark of Excellence contest, which included daily and weekly papers from four-year colleges in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.
The reporting team of LaSalle, Nicole Swapp, scene editor from Kent, and Anthony James, editor-in-chief from Bremerton, won second place in the breaking news category. They won for their coverage of the news conference last fall during which CWU officials revealed that the alcoholic energy drink Four Loko was believed to be responsible for sending nine students to the hospital after a party in Roslyn.
Fall graduate David Guzman of Mabton won third place for his Exceptional Brew column, the second year in a row his column placed in the General Columns category.