by Dave Waddell
ChicoSol intern Gabriel Sandoval is being honored by the Society of Professional Journalists of Northern California for his investigative reporting.
The SPJ chapter will present Sandoval with its 2018 James Madison Freedom of Information Award, Student Journalist category, at a banquet March 27 in San Francisco. The award is intended to honor freedom-of-information and First Amendment champions, according to SPJ NorCal.
The accolade recognizes Sandoval for two investigative stories about a deal that kept a former top administrator, Lori Hoffman, on Chico State’s payroll for 16 months and paid her hundreds of thousands of dollars after she left the university. First for a story for The Orion, Chico State’s student newspaper, and later in a second in-depth piece for ChicoSol, Sandoval used documents he obtained through public records requests to delve into Hoffman’s contractual and work arrangements.
Sandoval graduated from Chico State in December with a bachelor’s degree in journalism after transferring from Southwestern College in Chula Vista. He has been awarded a full-tuition scholarship to begin a master’s program at City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism in August.
Sandoval was a member of ProPublica’s Emerging Reporters Program in 2015-16. He’s done two summer internships on the East Coast — at the Chronicle of Higher Education in Washington, D.C., in 2016 and at WNYC, a public radio station in New York City, in 2017.
Sandoval was also the first recipient of a new ChicoSol scholarship to support student journalists interning with this online magazine.
Sandoval, who specializes in data-driven journalism, has been interning for the past six months for ChicoSol. His other stories include an in-depth article on Butte College’s handling of a student rape allegation.
“I love asking for documents and data,” Sandoval said.
According to a news release issued by SPJ NorCal, “The James Madison Freedom of Information Awards recognize Northern California organizations and individuals who have made significant contributions to advancing freedom of information and/or expression in the spirit of James Madison, the creative force behind the First Amendment. SPJ NorCal presents the awards near Madison’s birthday, March 16, and National Freedom of Information Week, which is March 11-18 this year.”
ChicoSol News Director Dave Waddell oversees the ChicoSol student intern program.