A KTVA crime reporter has won a prestigious journalism award for excellence in writing.

Daniella Rivera received a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association this week for three of her stories from last year.

The award is based on Rivera’s interviews with Fairview man Rob Cupples who posted a sign claiming drugs are being sold on Hyder Street “all the time,” capsized Kodiak fishing-boat captain Christian Trosvig who rescued one of his shipmates, and former Alaska sex worker Amber Batts.

In each of the three stories she submitted, Rivera said Wednesday, “I really leaned on writing to get the subjects’ message across to our audience” because “all these people had a story to tell.”

“[Cupples] was so frustrated with what was happening in his community he did something extraordinary, erecting a sign in his yard, and we wanted to give him a chance to explain why he did that,” Rivera said. “With the Kodiak story the captain had an incredible story to tell and a message he wanted to share, not just about public safety but also his faith. With the Amber Batts story, I thought she had a story to tell that was misinterpreted by a lot of people, who would look at the charge she was convicted of – sex trafficking – and make a lot of assumptions about her life.”

Rivera, 23, said she didn’t think she’d win the Murrow. She recalled being told by a journalism professor how rare the honor is and how difficult it is to earn – for what she considered normal work.

“These are things we do every day: we sit down and write a story in a diner in Kodiak, or on a phone on a plane,” Rivera said. “These things don’t look like they’ll lead to a prestigious award months later.”

Receiving the Murrow has only redoubled Rivera’s commitment to journalism, as she tackles Alaska’s pretrial bail system with ongoing reporting summarized in her special report “Catch and Release.” She’s inspired by a quote from former President Obama she keeps on her desk that says in part “if you can keep it about the work, you’ll always have a path.”

“It makes me want to keep going,” Rivera said. ““There’s a lot of work to be done in here in Alaska – there’s a lot of work to be done, and I’m here and ready to do it.”

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