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Oakland Athletics' Coco Crisp smiles with his face covered with the ritual cream pie as he gets doused with gatorade during the celebration on his walk-off single against the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning of their Game 4 of the American League Division Series at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012. The A's won 4-3. This image by staff photographer Ray Chavez won first place in the Best of the West journalism contest's sports photography category. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

Journalists from the Bay Area News Group won three first-place awards in the annual Best of the West contest, the most won by a single California news organization in this year's competition.

The contest, which honors excellent digital and print journalism from news organizations in the western United States, attracted about 1,000 entries in 25 categories this year.

First-place Bay Area News Group winners included:

  • Reporter Lisa Krieger, photojournalist Dai Sugano and digital producer Susan Steade in the multimedia storytelling category for the Cost of Dying project, which examined the emotional and financial costs of end-of-life decisions made by patients and their families. The ongoing project began with Krieger's story of the decisions made during the final days of her father's life and the resulting $323,000 hospital bill. Krieger's stories, reader stories, a resource guide, videos and more can be found on the project's home page www.mercurynews.com/cost-of-dying.


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    In awarding the first-place prize, the judge wrote: "Powerful personal stories on a painful subject so many people dread having to deal with -- and also very useful advice. The videos are beautiful. 'Gayla's Goodbye' in particular stuck with me long after it ended, with its candid subjects, intimate photography/videography and skillful editing. I also appreciated the useful how-to/step-through of relevant documents, which helps demystify some of the legalese."

  • Photographer Jane Tyska in the video storytelling category for her video of Matthew Ouimet, a toddler from Antioch who waited months for a kidney and liver transplant. Ouimet received the transplant last week and is still undergoing treatment at the hospital. Tyska's video and other coverage can be viewed at www.contracostatimes.com/matthew-ouimet.

    "A very moving story,'' the judge wrote. "Shot well, edited well. And a very effective narrative."

  • Photographer Ray Chavez in the sports photography category for his image of Oakland Athletics center fielder Coco Crisp receiving a whipped cream pie to the face and a Gatorade bath after a walk-off single in the 2012 American League Division Series. The judge said the photo "captured the emotion of the moment perfectly with great light, composition and moment. The image made me want to take a step back so I wouldn't get any Gatorade on me."

    Former Bay Area News Group reporter Hannah Dreier won a third-place award in the immigration and border reporting category for her story about Jesus Navarro, a Bay Area man who was denied a kidney transplant because of his immigration status despite a willing donor and private insurance to pay for the procedure.

    The Best of the West contest was founded in 1987. The contest attracts about 1,000 entries from news organizations in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.