The San Jose Mercury News and MercuryNews.com won overall excellence awards for daily newspapers and websites in the 36th annual San Francisco Peninsula Press Club Bay Area journalism contest.

Staff members of the Mercury News and other Bay Area News Group newspapers also won 25 other first-place awards in the contest, which honors the work of professional journalists in the Bay Area in categories ranging from breaking news to best use of Twitter.

Reporter Lisa M. Krieger and photographer Dai Sugano took first place in the daily newspaper series category for their Cost of Dying project, which examined the emotional and financial costs of end-of-life decisions patients and families are forced to make. They also won first place in the multimedia/interactivity category for the videos that were part of that series.

Bay Area News Group photographers won all three awards in the multimedia-interactivity category, as well as in the sports feature and general news photo categories. Photographer Jane Tyska swept the photo series category with her photo essays on Matthew Ouimet, an Antioch toddler waiting for a liver and kidney transplant; Occupy Oakland protests; and a peace rally in Oakland,

Other first place winners from the Bay Area News Group included:

  • Scott Herhold in the news column category for his work as a local columnist.

  • Mike Cassidy in the feature column category for his work as a business columnist.

  • Monte Poole in the sports column category for his work as a sports columnist.

  • The staff of the Oakland Tribune in the breaking news category for their coverage of a deadly shooting rampage at Oikos University in Oakland.

  • Aaron Kinney in the light feature category for a story on the surge in demand for Brussels sprouts.

  • Daniel Borenstein in the analysis category for a column on a loophole in a pension reform bill.

  • John Boudreau in the business/technology category for his story on Apple's use of global vendors.

  • Jackie Burrell in the specialty story category for a travel story based on a trip to the pyramids in Egypt.

  • Daniel Brown and Mark Emmons in the sports story category for their story on what goes on in the pile during an NFL game.

  • Alex Pavlovic in the sports game category for his story on Giants pitcher Matt Cain's perfect game.

  • Karl Mondon in the general news photo category for his photo of the funeral of a California Highway Patrol officer killed in the line of duty, and in the feature and sports feature categories for photos from the Olympics in London.

  • Nhat V. Meyer in the sports action photo category for a photo of Olympic gymnast Gabrielle Douglas.

  • The San Jose Mercury News staff for its use of @MercNews on Twitter.

    Other first-place Bay Area News Group winners included Sean McCourt of the Santa Cruz Sentinel in the entertainment category, Stephen Curl for editorial cartoons that appear in the Palo Alto Daily News and Horace Hinshaw for sports columns in the Pacifica Tribune. Scene Magazine and Katharine Fong, Leslie Sbrocco, Mandy Behbehani and Melinda Sacks won first-place awards for overall excellence, feature columns, light feature and speciality story in the magazine and trade publications category.

    Awards in the contest, which had nearly 500 entries in more than 40 categories, were presented at a dinner in Foster City on Saturday.