For the third year in a row, the Tucson Weekly was honored with one of the Arizona Newspaper Association's big awards in the annual Better Newspaper Contest.
The Weekly editorial department earned the General Excellence prize for non-daily newspapers with a circulation of more than 10,000. The Weekly earned the same honor in 2010, and was the Non-Daily Newspaper of the Year in 2011.
In total, the Weekly editorial side took home 29 awards, including nine first-place honors. The contest covered work done from May 1, 2011, through April 30. The results were announced on Saturday, Sept. 29, at the annual ANA convention.
In the ANA's advertising contest, the Weekly also earned general-excellence honors, along with six awards—including four first-place prizes.
The editorial awards (all in the category of non-dailies with a circulation of more than 10,000):
• In the newspaper-wide (non-individual) editorial awards, the Weekly won first place for Departmental News/Copy Editing Excellence; and Page Design Excellence.
• The paper nabbed second place for Best Newspaper Website; Community Service/Journalistic Achievement; Reporting and News Writing Excellence; and Special Section (for the Best of Tucson® 2011).
• The Weekly won third place for Editorial Page Excellence.
The Weekly's 21 individual awards:
• The Weekly swept the Investigative Reporting category. Tim Vanderpool won first place for "Defending the Innocent" (May 19, 2011) and second place for "Tactical Terror" (Nov. 24, 2011). Leo W. Banks earned third for "Arizona Burning" (June 30, 2011).
• The Weekly also swept the Best Column: Analysis or Commentary category. Tom Danehy nabbed top honors for "Pima Community College's Admissions Changes Deserve a Hearty Round of Applause" (Sept. 29, 2011). Renée Downing took both second and third place, for "The GOP's War on Planned Parenthood and Contraception Has Given Obama a Huge Boost" (March 29, 2012) and "The Greed of the Health-Care System Rivals the Greed of the Banking System" (May 26, 2011), respectively.
• The staff took first place for Best Sustained Coverage or Series for the Jan. 5, 2012, issue, which covered the anniversary of the Tucson shootings on Jan. 8, 2011.
• Tom Danehy won first place for Best Sports Column, for "One Year Into the Arizona Interscholastic Association's 'Reorganization,' We Have a Mess" (Dec. 22, 2011)." Irene Messina won third place in that category for "Around Jennifer Higgins, Women Weightlifters' Stereotypes Fall Apart" (Nov. 17, 2011).
• Vanderpool won first place in the Best News Feature Story category, for "The Mayor of Fourth Avenue" (April 5, 2012).
• Jim Nintzel and his reality-journalism competition, Project White House, which encouraged everyday folks to run for president, won first place in the Enterprise Reporting category.
• Josh Morgan won first place for Best Sports Photograph for a picture he took of UA gymnast Katie Matusik ("The Birth of the Pac-12," Aug. 4, 2011). He also took home second place for Best Feature Photo Layout for his photo essay "Real Refuge" (June 2, 2011).
• Speaking of "The Birth of the Pac-12": Danehy won third place for that piece in the Best Sports Story category.
• Weekly scribes took home two awards in the Best News Story category: Mari Herreras won second place for "Questionable Hires" (April 19, 2012), while Vanderpool earned third place for "The Smoking Gun" (Sept. 15, 2011).
• Weekly writers also earned two awards in the Best Column: Feature or Criticism category: Ryn Gargulinski nabbed second for "In Southern Arizona and Beyond, Pigs Get No Respect" (June 16, 2011) while Randy Serraglio earned third place for "A Tucson Artist Uses Experiences From His Bi-National, Bi-Cultural Life in His 'Narco Nation' Works" (Oct. 27, 2011).
• Photographer Zachary Vito won two awards: second place in the Best Feature Photograph category for his picture of Jeffrey Scott Brown ("Surviving and Thriving," March 1, 2012); and third place in the Best News Photograph category for his picture of Gabrielle Giffords with "Goodbye for Now" (Jan. 26, 2012).
• Finally, Bilal Muhammad won second place in the Best Multimedia Storytelling category for "Inside Al's Barber Shop" (The Range, June 29, 2011).
Here are the Weekly's advertising awards, in addition to general excellence:
• The staff earned first place for Best Classified Section.
• First place in the Best Black-and-White Ad category, for Asian Spa and Massage, went to Alan Schultz.
• Greg Willhite and Stephen Meyers won first place in the Best Color Ad category for Sundance Kid.
• Willhite and Jim Keyes won top honors in the Best Online Ad—Animated category for Tui-Na.
• Jill A'Hearn won second place in the Best Newspaper Promotion Ad series category for "We Have an App for that."
• Schultz earned third place in the Most Effective Use of Small Space category for Eddie's Cocktails.
Arizona's small newspapers ruled the day (or at least the contest), nearly sweeping the biggest contestwide awards: The Yuma Sun was named the Daily Newspaper of the Year, while the Arizona Capitol Times followed in the Weekly's footsteps as the Non-Daily Newspaper of the Year.
Bill Hess of the Sierra Vista Herald (a paper which, like the Weekly, is owned by Wick Communications) was named the Daily Journalist of the Year. Non-Daily Journalist of the Year honors went to Cindy Yurth of the Navajo Times.
The Non-Daily Photo Journalist of the Year is Dave Brown, of fellow Wick papers the Arizona Range News/San Pedro Valley News-Sun. Oddly, the award was not given in the daily category.
Alexis Bechman of the Payson Roundup won Story of the Year honors in the non-daily category. Rob O'Dell nabbed the sole big award that went to a large daily newspaper: The current Arizona Republic reporter won the daily Story of the Year award for work he did at the Arizona Daily Star.