Monitor staffers collectively won nine awards in the 2020 Texas Associated Press Managing Editors awards competition, including first place for Star Online Package of the Year, and first place Photo Gallery.

Journalists Mark Reagan and Lorenzo Zazueta-Castro — in collaboration with AIM Media Texas colleagues Denise Cathey, a photojournalist with the Brownsville Herald, and Fabiola Muñoz, a graphic designer with El Nuevo Heraldo and El Extra — were awarded first place in the Star Online Package of the Year category for their work on Death of a Dream.

The interactive multimedia project paired with a print story the two journalists co-wrote which details the fatal destiny which befalls scores of migrants who enter the country illegally. Reagan and Zazueta-Castro teamed up with Cathey and Muñoz to visually illustrate the often tragic effects human smuggling has on those being smuggled.

Mark Reagan

The journalists began their work on the story after an image of a father and his infant daughter who both died on the banks of the Rio Grande went viral. Together, they learned that federal immigration agents find human remains from border crossers, on average, once every three days. Hundreds of those are found in the hot, unforgiving ranchlands of rural Brooks County.

Reagan, an experienced reporter on the crime and police beat, also won 2nd place in the Star Reporter of the Year category, in part, for his work revealing forensic evidence testing backlogs in the Rio Grande Valley’s sole crime lab, operated by the Texas Department of Public Safety in Weslaco.

The backlog has had far-reaching effects on defendants awaiting trial, including delaying some proceedings by years.

Photojournalist Delcia Lopez won second place for Star Photojournalist of the Year for her work documenting breaking news, Valley culture and national politics in our own backyard.

Delcia Lopez

Her award-winning entries include scenes from the last bloodless bullfights in La Gloria, images documenting the grief of one family who lost everything in a house fire, and environmental activists protesting the federal border wall at the site of a butterfly preserve.

A curated photo gallery of the best of Lopez’s work in 2019 also earned her first place for Photo Gallery of the Year. Two other galleries earned her honorable mentions in the category.

Regan, Lopez and multimedia reporter Emily D’Gyves were awarded third place in the categoy Online Live Coverage for their coverage of the Edinburg triple murder-suicide, while Zazueta-Castro, A. Colleen DeGuzman and former staffer Daniel A. Flores won second place in the category Video Shorter Than Two Minutes for their video of a local priest holding a mass for deceased immigrants.

Lorenzo Zazueta-Castro

Flores also won an honorable mention in the Feature Series category for his work chronicling the fate of 85 cats and dogs that entered the Palm Valley Animal Center on the same day.

Monitor Deputy Editor Michael Rodriguez won third place for Feature Writing, while sportswriter Andrew McCulloch earned five honorable mentions for Sports Feature.

The Monitor competes in the Class AAA division of the APME contest, which includes newspapers with a circulation of 30,000 to 125,000.

Staffers at the Brownsville Herald, Valley Morning Star, Odessa American and El Nuevo Heraldo also brought home several awards, including top honors for the Herald, which won both Newsroom of the Year and Newspaper of the Year.

The Herald, Valley Morning Star and Odessa American all compete in Class AA, while El Heraldo competes in Class A and Spanish language categories.

In all, AIM Media Texas newspapers won 48 awards or honorable mentions.