Civic strategies thinks Philip J. LaVelle of the Union Tribune is one of the best journalists.
I confess I don't or rarely read coverage of natural or other disasters, and it seemed to me the UT was beating a dead rich person's horse to death while ignoring the problems in city management. I am not reflexively sympathetic to folks who build their houses far off in the hills and live the ultimate old-american-dream-type lifestyle, and who probably would die without their cars (some did die in them trying to escape the fire). Maybe LaVelle wrote about civic issues too. I'm also biased against articles that seem to be more about huge color photographs than anything else.
But I'm not the one who got recognized for great journalism!
I usually value the Op-Ed page the most.