VCNB reporter wins statewide award

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Earlier this spring, the New Mexico Medical Society announced Valencia County News-Bulletin reporter Julia M. Dendinger was named one of two recipients for its 2013 Guy Rader Award.

The award is given annually for excellent journalistic reporting in the field of health. Dendinger received the award for her 12-part series on addiction and recovery in Valencia County, which ran monthly in 2013.

This year was the first time in the award’s history that the committee was unable to narrow down the entries to select a single reporter as this year’s winner, wrote Angela Chair MD, chair of the society’s public relations committee.

The series delved into addiction and recovery in the county, focusing on what happens after a person decides to become clean and sober.

“I was thrilled when they contacted me,” Dendinger said. “It was a project I felt strongly about and I am so proud that it was recognized.”

Dendinger went on to say that the topics of addiction and recovery need to be talked about more often to help diminish the stigma.

“We all know someone — a friend, family member, coworker — who has struggled with addiction,” she said. “And if you think you don’t, you really are fooling yourself.

“Our goal with this series was to let people know they aren’t alone and there is something better out there. If just one person was able to make a change in their life because of the work we did, then this project was a success.”

News-Bulletin Editor Clara Garcia said she is very proud of Dendinger, who has worked as the newspaper’s county reporter since October 2006.

“Julia is one of the brightest and most diligent reporters I’ve ever known,” Garcia said. “Her passion for her work and for this community is substantial, and we’re extremely lucky to have someone with her talents at the Valencia County News-Bulletin.

“This series took an incredible amount of time and hard work, but her tireless efforts paid off with a series that, we believe, informed our readers of a very important issue.”

The other winner for 2013 was Leigh Black Irvin, the health reporter for The Daily Times in Farmington. Irvin’s article delved into a Farmington doctor’s study of local honey’s wound-healing properties.

The award is named in memory of Dr. Guy Rader, who was known for his special interest in the quality of published medical information.

Rader was a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, chief of staff of St. Joseph Hospital in Albuquerque, and chairman of several committees of the New Mexico Medical Society.

At the time of his death in 1961, Rader was president of the Bernalillo County Medical Association, now known as the Greater Albuquerque Medical Association.

At the start of each year, the New Mexico Medical Society Public Relations Committee solicits entries from newspapers across the state for a news story, series, or column published between January 1 and December 31 of the prior year.