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KUNR's 2022 entry for the Overall Excellence Murrow

An illustration of an imaginary machine with various people placed around it, including a medical professionals in scrubs, a mother holding her daughter's hand, and various first responders performing duties.
Courtesy Of Yunyi Dai for KUNR Public Radio
The illustration above is an abstract depiction of the stories featured in “A Year In the Pandemic.” Illustrator Yunyi Dai honed in on several concepts, including overcoming hardship and hope. Read more about her artistic process at the end of this story."

Over the course of 2021, KUNR produced hundreds of stories on critical pandemic information, potentially life-saving wildfire updates, and content in Spanish to address local language access gaps. Additionally, KUNR provided robust digital coverage including a detailed timeline of the first year of the pandemic, live blogs on several area wildfires, multimedia stories on our En Español page, and Facebook Live events in both Spanish and English on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

The audio for this web post contains a variety of reporting from the KUNR newsroom over the course of 2021. Here is a list of the specific stories and excerpts that are included, along with links to the full web coverage for each of them:

1. The first story is an excerpt from the hour-long documentary that KUNR produced to commemorate the one-year anniversary of COVID-19’s arrival in Nevada. The excerpt shares the story of Darlene Dougherty, a Reno resident who lost her 84-year-old husband, Dave Randolph, to COVID. They had been married for 45 years. Due to hospital precautions, Dougherty could not visit her husband or be by his side when he died.

2. This feature examines how Washoe County is seeing more child care providers close than open, and what that means for many parents in Northern Nevada who are struggling to find affordable child care.

3. KUNR’s wildfire coverage included a powerful look at the damage caused by the Beckwourth Complex Fire, which formed after two fires burning in Northern California merged. The blaze burned more than 105,000 acres and swept through the small town of Doyle, destroying more than 30 homes.

4. In a StoryCorps-style interview, one of KUNR’s youth media alumni Janelle Olisea interviewed her English teacher Mr. Greg Burge about the historic disruptions to education caused by the pandemic. One of our editors cried every time she worked on this moving conversation.

5. This feature breaks down the differences among the terms Latino, Latinx, and Hispanic, as well as providing insights into their origins. It was produced in partnership with our media partner Noticiero Móvil and shared with a handful of other public radio stations that are starting to offer digital reporting in Spanish.

6. This solutions journalism story explores a unique effort to provide COVID-19 vaccine access to Latinos and Spanish speakers. Local public health and medical experts collaborated with clergy to provide vaccines to the Latino community in an area church. This story was produced in Spanish as well, thanks to our partnership with Noticiero Móvil.

The illustration included in this award submission is courtesy of Yunyi Dai and is an abstract depiction of the stories featured in KUNR's “A Year In the Pandemic" documentary. Below is an explanation of her artistic process:

“The imaginary machine I designed in the center of the illustration connects the people around [it],” Dai explained. “It symbolizes the people from the community supporting each other to get through this challenging time.” The people in the illustration symbolize Nevadans, some of whom are featured in the special. Dai said she included a special nod to Darlene Dougherty, a widow who lost her 84-year-old husband, Dave Randolph, in December to COVID-19. Dougherty was not able to visit her husband at Renown Health in Reno, Nev., due to the hospital’s restrictions to mitigate the spread of infection. The illustrated letter in Dougherty’s hand depicts how she wrote to Renown Health after her husband’s death, which helped change the hospital’s visitation policy. The novel coronavirus going into the machine represents the public health threat, and the blue and green balls coming out on the other side symbolize human resilience. Dai said that the pandemic has taken an incredible toll and that she honed in on several concepts, including overcoming hardship, hope and the power for good.