Jaxon Van Derbeken, a longtime San Francisco Chronicle police reporter, has won the 2009 Eugene Katz Award for Excellence in the Coverage of Immigration. The award, presented annually by the Center for Immigration Studies, recognizse journalists who “go beyond the cliches so prevalent in reporting on immigration and whose reporting informs deliberations in this important policy area,” the center said.
Last year, Van Derbeken revealed that San Francisco had failed to report to federal authorities on some serious crime cases involving young illegal immigrant. The policy benefited a violent gang member who was later arrested in the murders of a father and two sons who became innocent victims of a gang war. The center said of Van Derbeken, “In the best tradition of journalism, his reporting shone light on hidden aspects of government conduct, forcing city officials to abandon their policy of shielding the juvenile offenders after the first story broke.” The award is named for Eugene Katz, a former reporter who went on to become president of Katz Communications, a broadcasting firm.