Sabrina Moreno, a first-year reporter for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, was named the Virginia Press Association’s 2020 Outstanding Young Journalist during the association’s virtual 2020 VPA News and Advertising Best in Show presentation April 29, 2021.
Moreno initially joined the Times-Dispatch for a 12-week general assignment internship. Her deputy editor, Karri Peifer, said that “her maturity and capabilities were so apparent that within weeks she was given a temporary beat covering the Chesterfield County government.
Last February, the newspaper created a full-time reporting position especially for Moreno. During her first few months, she covered state legislation, a county budget process, art openings and wrote general interest profiles.
By the summer, Moreno was in the thick of covering the protests and clashes with police in Richmond.
“She choked back tear gas, shepherded summer interns through the fray, and was once erroneously detained by police into the early hours of morning,” Peifer wrote. “None of it deterred her.”
Moreno fled Venezuela with her parents during her childhood to escape the turmoil taking place in the country, Peifer shared. With her background and fluency in Spanish, it wasn’t long before Moreno was unearthing stories about the people in Richmond’s growing Hispanic community.
The judge commented that Moreno’s portfolio displayed a range of topics and styles and noted that her COVID-19 coverage was laser-focused on the disenfranchised.
“Not only did she write news stories about COVID, but she also captured the impact of visual projections on the Confederate statues in Richmond; the stepped-up enforcement of undocumented residents by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the outbreak of COVID cases within the Farmville ICE detention center; and the survival of a small Guatemalan-owned business for 25 years,” the judge said.
Moreno’s stories skillfully detailed how Blacks and Latinos were becoming ill at disproportionate rates and that young people of color are experiencing severe mental health trauma, the judge wrote, adding that her stories are packed with impressive data as well as human emotion.
“As a journalist, she is curious, hungry and never satisfied with a canned statement from officials,” Peifer wrote in her nomination letter. “As a writer, her prose is lyrical and vivid; her grammar correct. She asks the hard questions, takes on the difficult assignments, she’s willing to work nights and weekends – and holidays. She digs deeper, finds an extra source; she meets deadline. And she is, genuinely a delightful person to be around and has a positive attitude that’s infectious.”
Maryland, Delaware, D.C. Press Association judged the entries. For more information about the contest results, visit https://www.vpa.net/contest-winners-gallery/2020-vpa-news-advertising-contest-winners-gallery/