Josh Brodesky, editorial page editor of the San Antonio Express-News, has won a first-place prize for opinion writing in the Best of the West journalism contest.

Brodesky won in general interest column writing for a selection of his 2021 columns. Nancy M. Preyor-Johnson, the paper’s associate editorial page editor, took third place in the same category. The results were announced Sunday.

Brodesky’s winning entry of five columns dealt with topics ranging from pervasive food insecurity in San Antonio to his own struggles with depression, which he likened to “low-hanging clouds.”

“It is a powerful collection of columns,” wrote Randy Essex, former executive editor of the Omaha World-Herald, who judged the category.

‘Rare authority’

Preyor-Johnson’s entry included columns on Texas’ restrictive new abortion law; her aunt’s difficult life and death; and efforts by the Texas legislature and Gov. Greg Abbott to limit classroom conversations about racism, discrimination and current events.

Preyor-Johnson “writes with rare authority born of thoughtful understanding,” Essex wrote. “It is an outstanding body of work.”

The second-place award went to Jean Guerrero of the Los Angeles Times, for columns exploring how Latinos fit into American politics.

On Saturday, Best of the West announced that the Express-News had won the first-place prize in project reporting for stories exposing official errors and oversights that worsened the effects of Winter Storm Uri, which left millions of Texans without power, heat and water for days in February 2021.

The paper’s spot news coverage of the storm won second place in breaking news, and a searchable database of family violence fatalities in Bexar County won second place for informational graphics. Other categories in Best of the West are still being judged.

The contest was founded in 1987 to recognize journalistic excellence in 14 Western states, including Texas. Entry fees are used to fund hotlines that offer free or low-cost legal advice to journalists seeking access to public records and government meetings.

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