The Tucson Weekly earned seven prizes in the 2008 Arizona Press Club Awards. The winners were announced at a ceremony on Saturday, May 16, at the Arizona State University Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in downtown Phoenix.
All of the awards came in "any publication" categories, meaning the Weekly was competing with all other newspapers in the state. For this year's contest, the Arizona Press Club eliminated the medium-size newspaper category, which had often been dominated by Weekly writers in years past.
For the third year in a row, James DiGiovanna took the state's top honors in the Film, Video and Television Writing or Criticism category, for "Character-Driven Epic" (Jan. 17, 2008), "A World Less Safe" (April 3, 2008) and "Blood in the Snow" (Dec. 4, 2008). Judge Stephen Kiehl, of the Baltimore Sun, commented: "DiGiovanna's funny, controversial reviews are a joy to read while also rich in knowledge of the history of film and storytelling. The reviews demonstrate a passion for film and a clear, well-argued point of view. You always know exactly how he felt, and why."
The Weekly's primary arts writers, Margaret Regan and James Reel, took second place and third place, respectively, in the Arts Writing or Criticism category. Judge Tim Page, a University of Southern California journalism professor, wrote: "Margaret Regan writes about photography with remarkable visual acuity and a sense of serving her community." As for Reel, he noted: "James Reel seems comfortable in many genres and inspires a reader's trust with his accessible but never condescending style."
Leo W. Banks earned two awards, both honorable mentions: in the Environment and Science Reporting category, for "Nature vs. Security" (May 1, 2008), and in the Health Reporting category, for "They Call Him Dr. Germ" (Oct. 9, 2008). Judge Liza Mundy, of The Washington Post, wrote of "Nature vs. Security": "An enlightening look at the clash between environmentalists who want to designate a patch of borderland an official wilderness, and local residents who fear this will exacerbate the problem of cross-border drug smuggling. This piece was particularly evocative in showing how pristine patches of wilderness can sometimes be a magnet for—and enable—outlaws."
Tom Danehy won third-place honors in the News Column Writing category. Judge Sheila Toomey, of the Anchorage Daily News, noted: "Danehy is a good example of the classic in-your-face columnist focused on opinion rather than people or story-telling. This type of column writing is often done badly. Danehy does it very well. ... A reader has no choice but to engage."
In the Blogging category, Jim Nintzel took third place for Scramblewatch.com, the election 2008 political blog masterminded by the Weekly senior writer.
The Arizona Republic's Chris Hawley was named the Virg Hill Journalist of the Year. James Gregg of the Arizona Daily Star was named the Arizona Photographer of the Year for the second year in a row; his colleague, Renee Fullerton, was named Arizona Designer of the Year. Marley Shebala of The Navajo Times nabbed Community Journalist of the Year honors.