Marina Starleaf-Riker


Recipient of the STAR REPORTER OF THE YEAR award in The Charles E. Green Awards (2018)

Marina Starleaf-Riker
The Victoria Advocate

Angela Piazza/The Victoria Advocate

Angela Piazza/The Victoria Advocate

Judge’s Comments:

Marina Starleaf-Riker’s reporting on the impact of Hurricane Harvey brings us the stories often left untold in natural disaster coverage: those of low-income residents, renters and small rural communities, struggling to survive day by day without the resources to repair or rebuild.

In “Hidden in Plain Sight,” Starleaf-Riker tells the story of Devan Orsak, mother of seven, who begs for money to cover rent in a hotel while she looks for affordable housing; Angelica Castaneda, mother of three, who washes her kids’ playroom with bleach twice a day to hold off the mold that made her baby sick; and Manny Govella, resident of small-town Refugio, who was fined for piling brush outside his yard because he couldn’t afford fees at the dump.  

Starleaf-Riker tells these stories with empathy and deep respect for people doing whatever they can to care for their families. She also exposes politicians and landlords who refuse to help and, in some cases, even punish those struggling to survive.

This tireless reporting and poignant storytelling makes an impact on readers and on communities.

Rebecca Blatt
Assistant Dean
Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Arizona State University

Judge’s Bio:

Rebecca Blatt is an assistant dean at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where she oversees master’s programs, online programs and academic integrity, among other initiatives.

Blatt previously directed the Cronkite News Digital Production Bureau and the Cronkite School’s Public Insight Network Bureau. In these roles, Blatt guided undergraduate and graduate students in multimedia storytelling, social media, data visualization, audience engagement, cross-platform collaboration and newsroom leadership.

Prior to her time at ASU, Blatt worked in public radio at NPR, North Carolina Public Radio and WAMU 88.5 FM in Washington, D.C. You can follow her on Twitter @reblatt.

To see writing from award-winning journalist Marina Starleaf-Riker, click on these story links below:


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